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Opinion

March 20, 2013

Editorial: Plaza building tenant a welcome sign for Rogers Street

On the surface, you might not think the addition of a new frozen yogurt franchise pegged to open just before the traditional summer season may not see like the biggest thing in the world — especially for a local coastal community that, for a variety of reasons, has become increasingly dependent on summer tourist dollars.

But the news that a trio of businessmen, including 1985 Gloucester High School graduate Sean Nickerson, will be leasing the little building at 102 Rogers St. to open a Gloucester franchise for the expanding and popular Orange Leaf frozen yogurt is indeed good news beyond the simple addition of a new business that will employ 22 people, mostly in part-time jobs.

The opening of Orange Leaf will finally bring life to a building that has never — ever – had any. And its location should send an important, positive message to visitors and residents alike.

It’s been more than four years now since Gloucester property baron and developer Mac Bell tore down the iconic old brick water shed at the Rogers Street front of his Main Street/Walgreen’s plaza property, moving the water dispensary over to where it rests now alongside the plaza’s Dunkin’ Donuts shop, and opening the streetfront site to new development.

Within days, Bell had put up what always appeared to be classic retail building, with rumors that a hair salon and later a small restaurant were pending and might be opening soon. But no tenant ever sealed a deal — and the building has never been occupied, even for a day.

Consequently, the building at the front of the plaza — one that is front and center for many visitors to Harbor Loop, which hosts attractions like the Whale Center, its whale watch and cruise excursions, Maritime Gloucester and more — has stood as the perpetual work in progress. And rather than seeing a welcoming business on Gloucester’s waterfront thoroughfare, visitors saw only an empty shell of a building — one conveying a sign of a city in hard economic times.

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