Krispy Kreme KOšs competition

WOBURN - Dunkin' Donuts could be facing some serious competition by the end of the year if all goes as planned for developers of a Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise off Montvale Avenue near the ramp to I-93 South.

The Jan Cos. of Cranston, R.I., bought the old Woburn Registry of Motor Vehicles site on Hill Street off Montvale Avenue at auction Wednesday for $1.15 million, beating out a handful of other bidders including Santorelli Construction of Wakefield, which opened bidding for the .91-acre site at $500,000.

Jan Cos. president, Nicholas Janikies, confirmed plans to open a Krispy Kreme franchise on the site.

Janikies, whose company owns the Krispy Kreme franchise rights in the six New England states under the name, New England Dough LLC, said the parcel was technically being bought by another subsidiary, this one called Renaissance Development.

If all goes smoothly and approvals from the city are forthcoming, Woburn residents could be munching on Krispy Kreme donuts by the end of the year, Janikies and his director of corporate design, Joe Fulford, said Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel on Middlesex Canal Park Drive where auctioneers sold off two state-owned parcels.

In addition to the registry site, which includes a 2,869-square-foot building on a 39,811-square-foot parcel, auctioneer Paul E. Saperstein disposed of a former armory site in Marlborough for $280,000.

The room at the Radisson was packed by more than 100 bidders and curious onlookers including several Woburn officials and players on the local real estate scene, and local attorney Joseph Tarby who represents the winning bidder.

The property hasn't been used as a Registry of Motor Vehicles branch location in many years. The MBTA has been leasing it and an adjacent parcel across Hill Street owned by the Department of Environmental Management as commuter park-and-ride lots. The lease on the registry site will be terminated upon completion of the purchase-and-sale agreement. The DEM lot is unaffected by the sale.

Also not part of the sale is strip of land at the front of the site abutting Montvale Avenue which is owned by the Massachusetts Highway Department.

"As is"

The parcel was being sold "as is." Before the auction, some potential bidders asked questions about possible site contamination and easements/rights-of-way.

Officials with the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAM) said no testing had been performed by the state but they were not aware of any releases on the site. They said due diligence was required of the bidders beforehand. The only cause for annulling the bid they said was if the state could not provide a clear title to the parcel, which they were sure the state could do.

(The property was taken for the registry by eminent domain in 1967. There had been two homes on the lots belonging to the Travers and Mahoney families. Hill Street had also been rerouted to its current location when I-93 had been constructed as its old path was too close to the new highway. On old plans, the old Hill Street reached Montvale Avenue not far from the current onramp.)

DCAM was asked if it had attempted to the sell the properties by conventional means. Officials said they had not and were selling them at auction under a pilot program implemented after a new law was enacted in July allowing for expedited disposition of surplus property.

After the auction, both H. Peter Norstrand, DCAM deputy commissioner for real estate, and Martha McMahon, DCAM deputy general counsel, said they were very pleased with the sale.

The buyers were required to pay a $35,000 deposit by bank or treasurer's check and have 60 days to complete the transaction.

Krispy Kreme No. 10

Janikies said there are currently 5 Krispy Kremes in New England and numbers 6-9 are in the works. The Woburn Krispy Kreme would be the 10th.

Fulford said company officials had already met with Mayor John Curran and Planning Director Edmund Tarallo and discussions had been positive. The company does, however, have to secure a special permit from the City Council, which will, no doubt, be looking for mitigation funds for traffic and roadway improvements in the difficult Montvale Avenue-Washington Street corridor.

Getting the approvals is also not a slam dunk. Dunkin' Donuts attempted to move in further up the street at the Einstein Bros. Bagels shop both before it was a bagel shop and after. Both times it was denied. One of the main concerns cited by city officials was additional traffic in the already congested area.

Fulford said the purchase price for the Woburn site was "a little high," but about what they expected when they walked in and saw the room packed with competing bidders. The $1.15 million will be topped with a 10 percent "buyer's premium," which apparently goes to the auction house.

Janikies said construction of the Krispy Kreme should take about 100-120 days once the approvals are all set. The old Registry building, an unusual round building, will be knocked down. He said engineers also think there is an old oil tank on the site which would have to be removed.

Janikies added a bank had expressed interest in piggy-backing onto the site, but he said there isn't room for a larger development, just the stand-alone Krispy Kreme.

Krispy Kreme was founded in 1937, but has only really hit the national consciousness in recent years and has been growing by leaps and bounds since the late 1990s.

In addition to the Krispy Kreme franchises, the Jan Cos. owns more than 70 Burger King franchises in 10 states, the Newport Creamery chain, Country Inn restaurants and three country clubs.

© 2000 Woburn Daily Times Inc.