BEVERLY — The woodland site of the former Parker Brothers headquarters at 50 Dunham Road has been sold to Woburn-based Cummings Properties, said officials for Cummings Properties and Jones Lang LaSalle, the commercial real estate services firm that brokered the deal.
"That is very encouraging news," Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon said. "Hopefully, it will lend emphasis to the redevelopment of the Brimbal Avenue interchange."
For years, Scanlon has been pushing for a new interchange at Exit 19 over Route 128 to unlock 200 acres to future development.
In the deal announced yesterday, Cummings Properties paid $2.3 million on Dec. 21 for the 54-acre property along Route 128, according to a statement from Cummings, which operates the Cummings Center.
It could be considered a steal when you consider the property last sold for $8.5 million in 2002, according to assessor records. That's when Hasbro Interactive sold the property to Fifty Dunham Road LLC. It is valued at $9.145 million, according to city records.
The sprawling, four-story steel-and-glass building was built in two phases in the 1970s and 1980s. It looks like it would be at home in a research and development office park farther south on Route 128, but it has sat mostly empty for much of the past year.
The property sits to the north of Route 128, in the woods down a 1,000-foot driveway next to the North Shore Music Theatre, The Salem News and Maestranzi Brothers. It's the headquarters to Fantastic Sams, which has 1,300 hair salons nationwide.
"For (Cummings) to buy 50 Dunham was a perfect complement to what they already own in Beverly," said Peter Richardson, a senior vice president with Jones Lang LaSalle in Boston and a North Shore resident.
Cummings brings with it a great reputation and a history of successfully renovating buildings, Richardson said.
"We are delighted they bought the building," he said.
The site has "pretty broad zoning" and could be used for a hospital, manufacturing, office space or research, Richardson added.
Officials for Cummings Properties, including CEO and President Dennis Clarke and founder William Cummings, did not give concrete plans for the property.
Cummings said in an interview the building gives his company "a little more diversified product" in the marketplace. The property, with its rolling woods and ponds, is one of the few large sites remaining along the highway. It could become home to a major corporate campus, or the building could be torn down and the site redeveloped, Cummings said.
"We don't know what could happen, but we are open to a lot of ideas," Cummings said.
"We will see how the leasing market progresses in the next few years," Clarke said in a statement.
In February, in an attempt to reposition the building, Jones Lang LaSalle officials renamed it the "Signature Office Park."
The contemporary, 103,000-square-foot building still sports a sign for game maker Atari out front, but Atari workers have not been there for years. The walls sport floor-to-ceiling photo murals of Parker Brothers workers from a bygone age. Bright colors on the walls still give you the feeling a toy company built the place.
There's plenty of parking, as the lot holds 428 spaces.
The property adds to Cummings Properties' holdings in Beverly, where it has 2 million square feet in the Cummings Center along Elliott Street (Route 62).
Scanlon said he hopes Cummings' ownership of a tired, mostly empty building will be the catalyst to the construction of the new interchange.
"Our task now is to convince Boston if the interchange is developed there will be a lot of investment in surrounding land," Scanlon said. "I think Cummings buying that property goes in that direction."
The city is analyzing the economic development potential of the area, something that might persuade the state to undertake the road project.
"I think it increases the probability of the interchange being upgraded in a reasonably near term," Scanlon said, adding Cummings would not buy a property to just leave it fallow.
Cummings Properties is responsible for the award-winning, hugely successful redevelopment of "the Shoe," the massive mill buildings that were once home to the former United Shoe Machinery Corp. The buildings were derelict by the time Cummings purchased the complex in 1996.
Cummings Properties and Cummings Realty operate 10 million square feet of office space in 10 communities around Boston. The complex in Beverly is a little more than 80 percent leased, Cummings said.
Cummings' Beverly office will oversee operations at 50 Dunham Road.
"The fact that we have a major presence in Beverly weighed heavily in the purchase decision," Clarke said. "Especially considering the challenges of the current market, it is important for this property to have attentive, hands-on management."
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673 or by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.