WELLFLEET — Mass Appeal, a nonprofit that has given away donated clothing at Cove Corner for the last 23 years, still has no place to go following a Nov. 1 letter from the landlord telling them they had to leave.
Bruce MacGregor, owner of the Route 6 strip mall that houses a Dunkin’ Donuts and other businesses, informed Mass Appeal that he is going in a “different direction” with the 2393 State Highway property and ordered them to vacate their 1,750-square-foot space by Jan. 31, 2020.
“If you fail to so vacate, I will have to employ the due course of the law to evict you,” his letter stated.
Since then, the board of directors and a core group of 20 volunteers have been looking for places for the charity to go. They ruled out a recently vacated space at 4730 State Highway in Eastham, which had been occupied by Rustored Salvage. Mass Appeal’s board passed that up because of uncertainty about neighboring Willy’s Gym, which was closed on Dec. 12 by the Eastham building commissioner because of safety concerns and building code violations, said Rebecca Holmes, Mass Appeal’s executive director. Barbara Niggel owns both Willy’s Gym and the 4730 State Highway property.
The also rejected space at 2700 State Highway in Wellfleet, next to the Outer Cape Health Services Pharmacy, because of a lack of parking, Holmes said.
So far, their attempts to find a large enough property that is easily accessible by bus have been unsuccessful. Bruce Bierhans, an attorney who does volunteer work for many nonprofits on the Outer Cape, is helping the group with an extension of their rental agreement so Mass Appeal can stay where it is until they find a new place. If that fails, Bierhans said, the courts will decide how long the nonprofit has to vacate.
Commercial evictions are not as easy to fight or delay as residential evictions, Bierhans said. But the group does have arguments.
“Hardship, the mid-winter eviction, and the good faith of the tenant in locating alternative space would be arguments to be made in this case,” Bierhans said.
MacGregor, who lives in Brewster, has not returned phone calls seeking comment. He is an owner and officer of numerous businesses and properties besides Cove Corner, including Cape Cod Stone & Masonry Supply and Cape Cod Ready Mix in Orleans, Sun Island Delivery in Hyannis, and Whaler’s Wharf in Provincetown.
The Wellfleet Select Board granted a host community agreement to Nature’s Alternative to open a retail marijuana shop at Cove Corner in space vacated by Rustored Salvage before the antiques business moved to Eastham.
Another Cove Corner tenant, Steven Lam, who owns the Furies Cape Cod Cleaning Service, said MacGregor is making a business decision.
“They are leaving, it’s inevitable,” Lam said. “The best thing for the community to focus on is helping them find someplace new.”
The Furies and Dunkin’ Donuts both have leases. The other tenant, Kristen Stetson, owner of Local Color & Cuts, said she did not wish to comment.