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WELLESLEY TOWNSMAN - Route 9 building that houses Justine's Grill auctioned off

October 23, 2013

By Jordan Mayblum/Jmayblum@wickedlocal.com

Wicked Local Wellesley

Posted Oct 23, 2013 @ 02:39 PM

The property at 978-980 Worcester Street that had been owned by Wellesley Realty Associates LLC-and sole principal Dean Behrend- became the property of East West Bank after it was sold at auction Wednesday. The land and building had been the subject of past foreclosure proceedings, with multiple auctions over the last year being postponed.

An auction scheduled for August 2012 was put off after Wellesley Realty filed a last-minute bankruptcy petition. The bank won out over 16 other qualified bidders with a $7.9 million bid, according to Justin Manning of JJManning Auctioneers.

"They could make it into a bank branch if they want to," Manning said, "but it's likely they'll sell it."

The property was initially due to be auctioned off in July 2012, but Behrend made a payment on the mortgage before it occurred. Another auction set for last December was also postponed.

Included in the auction was the 2.32-acre property that sits adjacent to Morses Pond along Route 9, including the existing building that houses Dunkin Donuts and Justine's Table. Manning said he could not offer full details on the future of those tenants, but added that the law allows for long-term leaseholders to remain.

He said he was unsure about the terms of Justine's lease, which had been called into question during multiple public hearings on the topic of a liquor license for the restaurant. Manning said it will be up to a prospective buyer to determine the feasibility of continuing with planned construction of condominiums on the undeveloped portion of the site.

Behrend did not return a voicemail seeking comment by the Townsman's press time. It is unclear what impact-if any-the auction will have on Justine's and its ongoing pursuit of an all-alcohol license from the town. The selectmen had expressed concern in the past about restaurant owner Gordon Breidenbach's relationship with Behrend, as well as the parking situation on the site.

The bankruptcy filing in December by Behrend put a stay on a sale of the property, which was recently lifted. That cleared the way for this week's auction, Manning said.