Recent excitement at the prospect of new investment in Peabody’s Centennial Industrial Park was tempered somewhat this week at the news of a key tenant planning to leave the park.
The Salem News reports that US Foods, which has a 188,000-square-foot facility at 1 Technology Dr. and employs 270 people, plans to move its entire operation up to Seabrook, N.H.
Company representatives were before that town’s Planning Board on Tuesday to outline a plan to move into a vacant industrial site, which is about two-and-a-half times bigger than the Peabody warehouse.
US Foods told Seabrook officials they have been looking at potential sites to relocate to for the past four years in order to expand their operations, reports the Salem News.
The food distribution company is based out of Illinois and has facilities across the country. The Peabody site is the company’s only Massachusetts location.
According to city records, the property is owned by Normandy Peabody Acquisition, LLC out of New Jersey and worth $10.76 million, using an income-based valuation approach. That’s about $250,000 in property taxes to the city.
Meanwhile, Centennial Crossing, LLC is looking to construct two new buildings over at 4 First Ave. to house a mix of commercial tenants, such as retail, a coffee shop, restaurants, artistic and crafts workshop space and professional offices. The developer says the intent is to provide services for the existing businesses and employees in the park.
That’s directly in line with the sort of investment Mayor Ted Bettencourt hopes to see at Peabody’s signature business park. Beginning with his campaign platform two years ago, Bettencourt has made his intentions clear to revitalize the park and encourage new growth there.
Bettencourt says he’d like to see the park, which has seen a number of vacancies in recent years, become more like the Cummings Center in Beverly, which has a vibrant and varied mix of uses – banking, dining, medical offices, professional offices, a fitness center and cafes.
During his remarks at the North Shore Chamber of Commerce's recent State of the Region breakfast, he highlighted the new project as the type of growth the city needs.
While Centennial Park has also welcomed the Children’s Hospital’s North Shore outpatient center, a handful of medical facilities and offices had already departed for the new Mass. General complex in Danvers.
One focus of Bettencourt’s Economic Development Council is to look at ways to rebrand the industrial park to make it more attractive and accessible for investors.
Bettencourt has talked about a variety of changes, from possibly renaming the park to modifying existing zoning to allow more uses, such as restaurants and recreational facilities.
An application for a site plan review on the new development was submitted to the Planning Board and a public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
The land in question is a vacant lot, about 2.7 acres, next to the Retrievex warehouse on First Avenue. Both parcels are identified as 4 First Ave. and under the same ownership.
The proposal is to construct a single-story building with a gross floor area of 14,040 square feet and a two-story building with 26,160 square feet of gross floor area. Nine units would be created in the first building and 16 units in the second. The estimate is to create up to 35 new jobs.
The firm, which is run by two Topsfield men, hopes to break ground in mid October and have construction finished by next August.
The developers say the project should be in conformance with existing zoning, which is in an Industrial Park zone, although they will need special permits from the City Council if any of those future restaurants want to serve alcohol.