Cleary Jewelers plans to retain shop at former Wilson’s building until 2029

Cleary Jewelers owner Kerry Semaski, pictured in June 2023, said she plans to keep her shop at its current location in the former Wilson’s Department Store in Greenfield until July 2029 through a lease extension.

Cleary Jewelers owner Kerry Semaski, pictured in June 2023, said she plans to keep her shop at its current location in the former Wilson’s Department Store in Greenfield until July 2029 through a lease extension. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-16-2024 6:17 PM

Modified: 04-17-2024 5:43 PM


GREENFIELD — More than a year after she was told her business would need to vacate its storefront in the former Wilson’s Department Store, Cleary Jewelers owner Kerry Semaski said she plans to keep her shop at its current location until July 2029 through a lease extension.

MassDevelopment acquired the Main Street property in 2022, with plans to expand and relocate Green Fields Market into the building’s first floor, turning the upper floors into 65 mixed-income rental apartments. In November 2022, the site’s three ground-floor tenants — Cleary Jewelers, the Hens & Chicks consignment shop and the Lucky Bird thrift store — were told they would have to vacate the building by spring.

However, Cleary Jewelers, which has been planted on the first floor of the former department store building since it first opened in 1928, now intends to stay put until it turns 101 years old, Semaski said.

According to Semaski’s attorney John Connor, Semaski had a clause in her lease allowing for a five-year renewal subject to “negotiation of a commercially reasonable rental rate.” Connor said that in previous negotiations with MassDevelopment, the agency did not suggest an “economically feasible” solution for the jewelry store.

Semaski previously said MassDevelopment suggested she relocate her business to a number of different sites, such as a retail space in the basement of the old Greenfield Community College Downtown Center, a second-floor rental space on Main Street and a gas station on Main Street. She said these suggestions were “inappropriate ... due to location, inaccessibility to our customers and/or incredible renovation needs.”

Emails between Semaski and Connor and MassDevelopment indicate the business owner sent written notice to MassDevelopment in November 2023 seeking to extend her lease. Connor said the lease’s option-to-renew clause, which states the renewal is valid if it is expressed in writing to the landlord at least 180 days before the lease’s expiration date, is legally binding. He added that MassDevelopment and his client have since reached an agreement over the lease extension’s terms and conditions, which he said does not deviate far from Semaski’s current lease, except for a change in rent price.

“They have a long-standing business,” Connor said of Cleary Jewelers. “For them to just up and move would not make sense economically.”

“We are not closing, we are staying open. We are planning on continuing to do business here at this location unless [MassDevelopment] wants to negotiate reasonably,” Semaski said. “We are open to negotiations, but if that does not happen, we will stay here through 2029, and at that time, we’ll find a new location locally to continue to serve our community.”

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A MassDevelopment spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by the Greenfield Recorder.

Although Caitlin von Schmidt, outreach and communications director for the Franklin Community Co-op that operates Green Fields Market, deferred questions regarding the future of the Wilson’s building to MassDevelopment, she noted, “We’re just looking for a win-win for everyone. We just want what’s best for the downtown.”

Cleary Jewelers is the last remaining business on the ground floor of the former Wilson’s building. Hens & Chicks relocated to 208 Main St. following negotiations with MassDevelopment, and Lucky Bird closed at the end of 2023.

“We’ve had overwhelming community support and we appreciate it greatly,” Semaski said. “We want to continue to see Greenfield grow, but at the same time, continue to do what’s right for a 100-year-old business.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.