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Centennial Crossing Looks to Bring Food, Amenities to Business Park

Two new buildings at 2 First Ave. will contain 25 units for a range of retail, medical, commercial and light industrial uses as well as business suites.

Come May, Centennial Industrial Park will be ready to welcome in some new retail services, a restaurant, coffee shop, offices, a bank, fitness studio and more at Centennial Crossing.

The new commercial development at 2 First Ave. broke ground in recent weeks and a short ceremony with city officials was held on Tuesday to celebrate the project, which represents a significant financial investment and the first example of new construction to take advantage of zoning changes earlier this year that allow added uses in the industrial park.

The end product will be two buildings, housing retail, food, office, medical, commercial and light industrial uses within a 40,000-square-foot complex. There will be 25 units total for lease ranging between 1,500 and 6,000 square feet in size.

The target customers for these businesses will be the very people who already work within or frequent the larger industrial park.

Kevin Lucey of Centennial Crossing, LLC, said there's a need for these types of amenities and retail presence, which are largely nonexistent now within the park. City officials, in turn, hope that spurs further growth and investment.

"Mayor Bettencourt has welcomed this project with open arms since we pitched the idea to him last spring. Karen Sawyer of the Community Development office, and all the city departments have been nothing less than outstanding in the way they have helped us get to this point as quickly as we have," Lucey said.

"This is exactly what we had in mind when we moved as a city to rezone this area to allow for more uses," said Bettencourt, adding that the planned mix of uses is just what he believes the park needs. "In speaking with the business owners here and the different companies, they were looking for more amenities...for their employees."

"This is great for job creation and it's going to bring some additional tax revenue to the city," he said.

The propriety of restaurants within the park has been argued back and forth on the City Council over the years. On one hand there are prominent medical, research, manufacturing and warehouse facilities and hotels, but Bettencourt believes a vibrant business park has coffee shops, small restaurants and sub shops as well, just like at the Cummings Center in Beverly.

Bettencourt said he's also still in talks with US Foods to try and dissuade them from leaving Peabody for a larger warehouse in Seabrook, N.H.

The construction zone at Centennial Crossing is at the corner of the existing property at 4 First Ave. housing a Retrievex warehouse. Lucey said the family firm owns the entire property and just split off a vacant 2.7-acre portion to build the new complex.

Lucey said they'll be back before the City Council for most of the retail uses. The City Council did amend zoning this past spring to broaden allowed uses in industrial park zones, but kept tight control over most of those uses via special permit.

A restaurant without alcohol would be allowed by right along with print shops, communication stores or health clubs and medical offices, while any alcohol requires a special permit as do banks, personal service businesses (dry cleaners, hair salons, photography studios, etc.), convenience stores or contractors' shops.

"We are just getting started with our marketing efforts and we are very pleased with the strong response from prospective tenants we have received so far," Lucey said.

One of the main selling points in leasing information for the new complex is its proximity to Route 1, 128 and I-95. You can find more information at www.ccpeabody.com.

The family firm also owns the property at 3 Technology Dr., which is home to Expeditors International.

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