At The Helm: Meet Sarah Chace
CCL: How would you describe your role in the organization?
SC: I am a partner at Mashpee Commons Limited Partnership. My responsibilities include managing the daily operations of Mashpee Commons – including leasing, property management, marketing, and strategic planning.
CCL: What were the appealing elements of the job that helped you decide to make this commitment?
SC: Mashpee Commons is a family-owned company. My father began the process of retrofitting a strip shopping center in the 1980s. It seemed like a natural progression that I join the company to advance our family’s vision for Mashpee Commons; most notably creating environmentally responsible, innovative mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods. I am aware that the words “environment” and “development” are often in conflict with one another, but it has been our intent since the beginning to be cognizant of the impact of our buildings and our footprint. Notably, we built a wastewater treatment plant in 1985, we have an underground stormwater retention system, and we have solar panels on the majority of the roofs in the Commons. It’s interesting, actually–you would never really know most of our systems are even there.
During the pandemic, our immediate priority was to work with our merchants and tenants to help them navigate the crisis primarily from a business perspective. However, as the housing crisis on the Cape began to morph into something more dire than anyone could anticipate, our focus again has shifted towards building housing. We are uniquely positioned to help alleviate the housing crunch with significant acreage and existing infrastructure, without fear of contributing to the town’s already degraded waterways or having to wait years for a municipal sewer system to be constructed.
I’ve seen firsthand the consequences of the crisis, including hard-working people forced to sleep in their cars at night because they lost access to housing. This is a fact that seems to be missed by many in the community who are housing secure. The goal is to help build more options for housing at Mashpee Commons–as soon as we can.
CCL: I’m sure a lifetime with your father taught you much (by osmosis if nothing else), but what have you learned from him (or others) since you have been working for Mashpee Commons?
SC: That’s easy–have a strong work ethic, be a good neighbor, and give back to your community. Mashpee Commons has always made it a priority to support local organizations and events that include the Mashpee Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade, the town’s annual Oktoberfest, and the Seaside Le Mans. I am particularly proud of our partnership with the Mashpee Public Schools–quite possibly the only one of its kind in the nation–and its #WeAreMashpee store on Greene Street, which showcases merchandise from student makers and offers real-world business experience.
But my greatest takeaway after having worked with the team in Mashpee Commons, is that the best boss is never the smartest person in the room. Surrounding oneself with people who have more experience, more knowledge and offer different solutions, approaches and perspectives always results in a better solution or product. I have benefitted greatly from the knowledge and expertise of each of the employees of Mashpee Commons. I likely drive them all nuts, but I am profoundly grateful to each of them.
CCL: How would you characterize the businesses at The Commons, and specifically the woman-owned businesses?
SC: The majority of businesses at Mashpee Commons are independent, entrepreneurial ventures that require great personal commitment and often represent the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the owners. Approximately 50 of the businesses are owned by women, which is a great source of pride for Mashpee Commons. It is particularly gratifying–day in and day out–to see that Mashpee Commons provides a vibrant environment for women-owned businesses to thrive and prosper.
CCL: What elements of the collection of businesses and services do find most unique and memorable?
SC: I’m always struck by the sheer creativity of our shopkeepers and business owners. You will find products, services, and dining options at Mashpee Commons that you cannot find elsewhere. Many of the businesses are also true labors of love, and I feel that as a customer you can sense that.
CCL: What would you like to see in the future for The Commons?
SC: I cannot say this enough–we desperately need to build more options for attainable, affordable and workforce housing on Cape Cod, and I want Mashpee Commons to be a catalyst to make that happen.