Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

July 31, 2013

Mad Maggie's in search of a home

By Dustin Luca

---- — After more than a year of working to open in Andover Village Square, Mad Maggie’s Homemade Ice Cream is now in search of a new home in Andover.

Steve and Maggie Reppucci of Andover, who already operate their popular ice cream shop in North Andover, said they ultimately decided to start looking elsewhere for their second location after things got “too complicated” at Andover Village Square on Main Street.

“The owners (of Andover Village) are kind of wrestling with what they want in there and what the space is going to be divided as, and it got too complicated for us,” said Steve Reppucci, who hesitated to comment further.

John Fenton, one of the partners in Lincoln Essex OAV, which owns Andover Village, said he, too, was disappointed that a deal with Mad Maggie’s didn’t come to fruition.

“Everyone was looking forward to (Mad Maggie’s),” he said. “There was just financial misunderstandings, perhaps. Nobody’s fault, really. It just didn’t work out.”

For months, it seemed Mad Maggie’s had been in limbo at Andover Village. The ice cream shop initially was planning to move into the former Fred C. Church Insurance street-level space. Then recently, its location was moved to the interior spot once occupied by Uptown Salon before any deal ultimately fell apart.

Increasing rental prices are being citing by some as a factor in the vacancies at Andover Village.

Peter Caruso, president of the Andover Business Community Association, said that Andover Village Square “is a prime location in the center of town that really needs to be actively developed by its owners.”

“At this time, all the price points need to be re-examined to attract businesses that will succeed in the downtown Andover area,” Caruso said.

Fenton admitted that rent prices have increased, but only to what the market considers reasonable rates, he said.

“For Main Street rental space, the rents are between $25 and $35 per square foot,” he said. “We’re just upgrading our property so it is between the market rents.”

Meanwhile, Reppucci is still on the hunt for an Andover location.

“Who knows what’s going to happen?” he said. “We didn’t really anticipate that we’d be leasing there when these people approached us. Who knows who else has property down there that’s looking for a reasonable tenant?”