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Cape Cod Mall seeking possible redevelopment with housing and a new hotel

With the closure of retail stores and a changing economy, Barnstable town officials gave the owners of the Cape Cod Mall a hearty endorsement to pursue the development of housing and possibly a hotel at the large Hyannis property.

The Barnstable Town Council approved a request to rezone the 65-acre mall to be able to reduce the amount of parking on site, and add multi-family housing developments and a hotel no greater than 4 stories – neither of which are currently permitted.

Councilors unanimously agreed to the zoning change, noting that the mall needs new life, and Hyannis – and the Cape in general – is badly in need of housing.

“The mall is becoming slightly depressing, as you see particularly during COVID, and the amount of businesses that moved out of the mall.” Precinct 9 councilor Tracy Shaughnessy said. “That property is definitely in need of some invigoration.”

The amendment marks the first time there’s been a zoning change at the site since 1996.

Tim Fox, with the Simon Group – the operators of the mall – said the rezoning of the mall has been a more-than four-year partnership with town staff to bring the mall into the modern retail era.

Fox says that the industry has undergone a major shift in the last few decades with the increase in online shopping. That only intensified the last few years during the pandemic.

“It’s forced us to look at the businesses and understand how we can best serve our customers,” Fox said.

He told councilors that one way to do that is to diversify away from offering strictly retail.

“Malls traditionally are retail and restaurants. We’re seeing – going forward – that that’s changing , and that’s changing across the country,” Fox said. “This is not a unique circumstance, but it’s an important change.”

Developers were before the council on December 1, saying that they had no specific project before the council, it was a zoning change that would allow a development to eventually move forward. Any new development would go before the town and likely the Cape Cod Commission as well.

The town’s planning board reviewed the zoning change in October as well.

While no details were discussed, a new development would likely occur on the southern portion of the mall, in current parking areas along Route 28.

An attorney with the developers says the mall is currently assessed at over $100 million, making it by far the single largest private taxpayer in Barnstable. They employ about a thousand people.

Sam Houghton left CAI in February, 2023, to become News Editor at the Martha's Vineyard Times.
He worked at CAI since the summer of 2017. Before that, he worked at the Falmouth Enterprise, where he covered local politics.