Peirce Building could be leased or sold

Sep 12, 2023

MIDDLEBORO — The Peirce Building in the town center could be leased or sold, based on a plan presented to the select board Monday, Sept. 11 by Town Manager James McGrail.

A request for proposals for a long-term lease of the structure, located at 99 North Main St., will be issued in the next few weeks, McGrail said. 

If an acceptable proposal is submitted, the issue will be brought to a Special Town Meeting to be scheduled before the end of the year to allow voters to weigh in on the proposal.

In case no lease offers are received, a request for proposals for a sale of the building will be issued late in the year, McGrail said, with a potential Special Town Meeting in early 2024 to vote on the project.

“We’ve gone through every scenario possible,’’ McGrail said.

The fate of the Peirce Building has been a subject of debate, sometimes heated, within the last year. 

The building was built in 1808 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The structure originally served as home to the Peirce General Store and eventually became town property in 1935, when the police department moved in. The building has stood vacant since the police department relocated to its current site on Wood Street in 2018.

A historical restriction has been placed on the property that requires the exterior to remain historically accurate. Any bid on the project, whether for lease or sale, would have to honor that restriction, McGrail said. 

A group that had been charged with exploring possible uses for the building, The Peirce Building Reuse Committee, estimated the cost of renovating the structure at around $5 million. The building, supporters had said, could house a community center and a mix of public and private spaces.

Some in town questioned how the project would be paid for and said that work needed on other buildings in town should be prioritized.