The owner of two key commercial buildings in Adams Corner intends to sell his high-profile properties, a move that is likely to trigger a new round of redevelopment in Dorchester’s gateway village.
Arthur S. Murphy controls the flagship two-story corner building at 526 Gallivan Blvd. that houses Windy City and China Sky restaurants and the Butcher Shop, along with other office space. Murphy also owns an assortment of storefront condo units along Adams Street. He told the Reporter last week that he is entertaining offers for his entire Adams Corner portfolio.
Murphy, 67, suffered a stroke last year and, while his health is on the mend, he said he plans to focus his attention more on other real estate ventures and liquidate his holdings in Dorchester.
“Right now I have five people interested in buying,” Murphy said in the interview.
“It’s basically available and at some point I will sell it and move on. I think its going to go to somebody that knows the neighborhood. I think the investment that Tom Cifrino at old Supreme Market has put into the neighborhood with the parking lot and the new tenant there will bring our area to a new level. I think were going to see some South Boston money come to our neighborhood.”
Murphy, who grew up on nearby Saranac Street, purchased 526 Gallivan Blvd. in 1981 and bought a second building – a collection of Adams Street storefront anchored by Casali’s convenience store – in 1986. He has amassed other real estate holdings in Dorchester and beyond in the intervening years— a career that began modestly when as a teenager he worked odd jobs in the Adams Corner neighborhood. “It was a passion for me,” said Murphy. “I wasn’t given any money, I earned it and to be able to buy that property was a big deal for me. I grew up in the area and I believed in it.”
Sean Weir, president of the Cedar Grove Civic Association, said that the potential of new ownership – and new investment – in these two commercial properties could mark a big shift in Adams Village. “The economy of the whole village really depends on those little businesses. I’d say Arthur’s properties account for about one-third of the commercial district and so it’s quite a big chunk of it,” said Weir. “Arthur was very involved with everything on the corner and I always thought he was very good to the neighborhood. But he wants to get out of the commercial side of things, and I think a new owner would mean new blood and new life.
Mary Kelly, president of the Adams Village Business Association, agrees. “I do think the community would welcome a modernization and rehabilitation of the buildings, especially the China Sky building. Change is never easy and it would impact the businesses that are there. But it’s one of the primary anchors in Adams Village so a facelift would be a good thing.”
Added Weir: “The corner needs a facelift and whoever does buy it, it would be great to see. Tom Cifrino’s building, with the new Boston Sports Club, looks so nice. Hopefully it will start a chain reaction and really beautify the corner. The next owner will have a little bit of work on his hands, but that will bring more activity and business to the district.”
Murphy said a prospective buyer approached him last year with an offer to buy both buildings, but the deal fell through. “Their attorney thought it wasn’t a good deal,” he said. It’s not something that I would like to do anything further on. I will be selling, but I’m not sure when. I don’t need to sell.”
City assessing records show that the property at 526 Gallivan, which includes the two-story building that houses Windy City and China Sky and a separate one-story building occupied by a nail salon, is valued at nearly $2 million. (Murphy thinks the prospect of adding a third floor – and creating 8 to 10 condo or apartment units in the building – would do very well.) The storefronts on Adams Street – from 775 to 789 – are broken up into individual condo units. Cumulatively, they are worth in excess of $585,000, although city assessments are generally set well beneath current market prices.
“Everyone who has approached me knows the property and the neighborhood very well,” said Murphy. “It will take someone with some vision and patience.”