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Developer Buys The Paper Store Out Of Bankruptcy

The Paper Store in Northborough, Massachusetts.

One of the largest privately held retail developers in the country has bought The Paper Store out of bankruptcy, showing optimism for the family-owned gift retail chain’s future.

Principals with Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts-based WS Development on Tuesday led a group of investors in helping The Paper Store emerge from bankruptcy, the developer announced. The terms of the acquisition weren't made public.

“Our relationship with The Paper Store goes back many years and we have great respect for the business and its leadership,” WS Development Chief Financial Officer and co-Chief Investment Officer Eric Smookler said in a release announcing the acquisition. “Its community-centric focus, diversified and evolving assortment and strong fundamentals make it the type of retailer we believe is well positioned to not only successfully navigate the future but grow in it.” 

The Paper Store, based in Acton, sought Chapter 11 restructuring in July, citing shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its 86 locations in the Northeast, which average between 8K and 9K SF, were shut down for months.

“The Paper Store could not have successfully navigated this process without the support of our dedicated, hardworking, and motivated staff, as well as principals of WS Development who made a meaningful commitment to our future and have allowed for our family-run business to continue serving our communities,” The Paper Store President and CEO Tom Anderson said in the release. “We also cannot express enough appreciation for our beloved customers — they have stuck by us for years and continued to do so during these uncertain times.” 

WS Development has a portfolio of more than 27M SF spread over more than 95 properties that it owns, manages and leases, most of which are located along the East Coast. It owns at least three Paper Store locations in Massachusetts, in Hyannis, Beverly and Chelmsford.

In a pre-pandemic move, the developer bought a 530K SF Cranston, Rhode Island, shopping center for a reported $181M in February.

Among its Boston-area properties are the Boston Seaport, which the company heralds on its website as “the largest single real estate project in city history,” and Amazon’s most prominent office in Greater Boston.