What's our town planner doing?

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What's our town planner doing?

Postby Chasnbos on Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:19 am

By Melissa Russell, Correspondent
GateHouse News Service
Wed Jul 18, 2007, 01:11 PM EDT


Story Tools: Email This | Print This
Wilmington -
The recent $11 million sale of 100 Research Dr. in the Ballardvale commercial district near Route 93 is an indicator that interest in Wilmington commercial property is on the rise, real estate experts say.

Ram Management Company recently purchased the 15-acre site, which previously sold for $6.8 million in 1999.

While Route 128 is still the main draw among companies looking to expand their office space, during the first half of 2007, commercial real estate professionals say that northern areas grew in popularity. And Wilmington, which is currently experiencing a growth in retail commercial space, is poised to benefit because of its location and the town’s pro-business outlook.

Matt Daniel of Meredith & Grew, a Boston-based commercial real estate firm, said that he has seen tremendous growth in the suburban market place in recent years. Fair economic times, combined with high rents in the Boston area are “pushing people up the Route 495 belt, with spikes along Routes 3 and 93,â€￾ he said.

Wilmington’s location on major highway systems is a major draw, according to Town Planner Carole Hamilton. The town has not offered tax incentives to companies, but instead relies on its proximity to Routes 93 and 128 to lure in developers, she said.

Town Administrator Michael Caira credits the town’s emerging retail market on Wilmington’s friendly “one-stop shoppingâ€￾ approach to the permitting process.

“We try to make zoning to be inviting to business,â€￾ he said. “When developers come in they meet with all of the relevant departments at once, rather than have weeks of process.â€￾

In terms of value to the town, commercial real estate brings in approximately 41 percent of the property taxes in town, or about $20 million. While the value of residential real estate is significantly higher than commercial property, $2.8 billion compared to $900 million, “that $900 million brings in $20 million in taxes, compared to the $28 million from property taxes.â€￾

Wilmington’s emerging retail strength is most evident along Route 38, as construction proceeds on the Market Basket Plaza. Construction further down Main Street will soon see a Staples, Ruby Tuesday, Starbucks, Sleepy’s Mattress, and a Quiznos. Additionally, the Department of Motor Vehicles is moving from Reading to North Wilmington, and associated retail establishments are most likely forthcoming, Caira said.

“We’re not seeing a giant expansion like years ago, but we are seeing more than in the past,â€￾ he said.

While other communities throw up roadblocks or make financial demands of developers, Caira said Wilmington residents are “reasonable and tolerant, and recognize how important business is to the health of our budget situation.â€￾

“We’re doing OK because we work with the business community,â€￾ he said.

Of course, success has its drawbacks, traffic chief among them.
However, Caira said, “I don’t see it as a problem that can’t be dealt with.â€￾

As Wilmington is one of the area’s large manufacturing centers, Caira said he would like to see a mix of commercial enterprises in town. With Wilmington’s history of battling corporate polluters, “cleanâ€￾ industry is of paramount importance, he said.

“We certainly want clean industry, like anyone else. We encourage it,â€￾ he said. “The important thing now is to provide residents and consumers with more retail variety.â€￾
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What's our town planner doing?

Postby Chasnbos on Sun Jan 20, 2008 8:48 pm

Tewksbury is so far behind the surrounding towns.

Billerica puts up its 'open for business' sign. Companies notice
By Jennifer Amy Myers, jmyers@lowellsun.com
Article Last Updated: 01/20/2008 06:35:39 AM EST

BILLERICA -- Three years ago, Rich Scanlon was looking down the barrel at a commercial/industrial property vacancy rate of 30 percent. Empty office parks. Missed opportunities. Uncollected revenue.

But today, as others dread the looming shadow of a slowing economy, the town's chief assessor sits in the catbird seat with a commercial/industrial vacancy rate that has been slashed to 10-15 percent.

Scanlon attributes the town's good fortune to a willingness to negotiate with businesses, strong economic incentives and location, location, location.

The widening of Route 3 helped, he said.

"Route 3 is the new Route 93," Scanlon said. "As businesses look to expand, they are moving away from the high prices of Boston, Cambridge and Waltham and settling in Bedford and Burlington. When those spots fill up, the spillover falls into Billerica."

Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council President Robert Halpin agrees, pointing out that the Massachusetts High Tech Council rates Billerica 14th for "tech



friendliness" among the commonwealth's 351 cities and towns.
"Billerica is a tremendous business location in its own right," he said. "It has one of the highest concentrations of Instrumentation-Industry companies in Massachusetts and also a tremendous concentration of vendors and suppliers to that industry -- so there is a great benefit to the location from a supply-chain standpoint as well."

The most recent coup was landing Parexel International, a biopharmaceuticals services company. The deal, signed this month, commits the company to leasing the 100,000-square-foot building at 2 Federal St., part of The Fields, a six-building office park.

Scanlon is banking on Parexel's presence to help fill the rest of the park, which is now dotted with vacancy signs.

"Being right off of the Concord Road exit of Route 3, it is the gateway to the town for people coming up from Boston, and for them to see vacant buildings, that is not a good message to send," he said. "Once Parexel flies its flag there, people will know the park is doing well."

Other recent successes include the Billerica Commerce Center, the 627,000-square-foot former Kmart warehouse on Salem Road. It was vacant for three years, with no leases, generating no revenue. ING Clarion renovated the old warehouse in 2006, breaking it into several industrial units. Siegel Egg Co., a food-service distributor, moved its headquarters from Cambridge last April, occupying 165,000 square feet.

FedEx Home Delivery also has moved in. Scanlon anticipates the building will be fully occupied by the end of the year.

Despite the good news, there are still a few spots in town rife with vacancies, including several commercial parks off of Middlesex Turnpike, Treble Cove Road and on the Tewksbury line in North Billerica.

"There seems to be a glut of 20- to 30-year-old, 40,000- to-80,000-square-foot office and R&D facilities," said Scanlon. "They are passé today, in a time when most businesses want a one-story facility."

The problem with commercial parks in the Middlesex Turnpike corridor, along Enterprise Road, as well as those off of Treble Cove Road on Republic and Esquire roads, is a lack of infrastructure, Scanlon said.

Roads battered by years of tractor-trailer traffic and a lack of town sewerage has stilted growth. Some businesses have banded together to look into paying betterment fees to obtain sewers.

"They are ripe for redevelopment," he said. "We are hoping at some point to get the sewer in because that leads to a higher-value use."

Since 1995, Billerica has participated in the state's Economic Development Incentive Program, allowing the town to offer real-estate tax incentives on new growth in exchange for business investment, local employment and commitment to the community.

"It is not a tax break," cautions Scanlon. "It is a negotiation to share any new tax revenue."

The program has helped to bring a lot of companies to town, among them Parexel, Nortel Networks, Jabil Circuit Inc., Flir Systems, Bruker Bio-Spin Corp., Bruker Optics, Inc., Nuvera Fuel Cells, Cabot Corp., ASE Americas, Inc., Welch's Technical Center, and Curriculum Associates.

More than $200 million has been invested in the Billerica business community, creating nearly 2,000 new jobs, in connection with the incentive program.

In addition, several of the companies, as part of the program, have contributed to the Community Fund, which hands out more than $100,000 in grants annually to worthy projects in the town's schools, library, and community organizations.

Roberto Cordaro, president and CEO of Nuvera Fuel Cells, said his company moved from Cambridge to Billerica in June 2006 to accommodate their manufacturing needs as the company entered a commercialization phase.

"We went through a detailed analysis of the impact of the commute on our people," he said. "Being located right off Route 3 in a midpoint between I-95 and I-495 helped in achieving the goal. And last, but not least, we gained important support from the Billerica political leaders in welcoming Nuvera to Concord Road."

"Businesses want to go where they are welcomed and we will talk to any business willing to come in," Scanlon said. "Every business dollar we can bring into town is one less we have to take from residents
it comes to commerical development. Been so busy lining residential developlers pockets rather building a balance of commerical development.
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What's our town planner doing?

Postby swamper on Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:08 am

Can't change the past....can only try to move forward. From another thread:

From the Tewksbury Advocate:

Looking at the future of business in Tewksbury
By Chloe Gotsis, Staff Writer
Wed Nov 07, 2007, 09:43 AM EST
Tewksbury -

In an effort to attract businesses to settle in town, the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board decided last week to develop an industrial organization devoted to bringing industry into the area.

The two municipal boards held an economic development training session Thursday evening at the police station to address the status of current economic development activities, such as the I-93 development.

“The main thing is to be more proactive in trying to get businesses to locate here and those businesses would have to be appropriate businesses for the town of Tewksbury,â€￾ said Community Development Director Steve Sadwick. “There are some questions about what is an appropriate business. I don’t have the answer yet because we haven’t had the dialogue yet.â€￾

Selectman David Gay and Planning Board member Nancy Reed will represent their respective boards when they meet with Sadwick and Jay Donovan, a representative with experience in economic development from the Northern Middlesex Council of Government, within the next two weeks to discuss the type industrial group they will form.

The two municipal boards were presented with a number of options for an industrial group at Thursday’s meeting, including an industrial development commission, an economic development council and a redevelopment authority.

“We need to figure out quickly what kind of organization we want to have so that they can carry the charge and the ball for the town,â€￾ said Sadwick. “The whole thing is, who is going to take a lead on this? If you have a committee or a commission or an authority that can lead the dialogue in this, it takes the selectmen and planning board out of addressing this on their agendas.â€￾

Gay said while it is currently not clear which types of industries they are looking to attract, once they are able to define which group to move forward with they will make a recommendation to the two boards.

Gay said it was not clear what types of businesses the town is looking to attract.

“At this point an exploratory committee would be set up to look around at what type of businesses to bring in,â€￾ said Gay. “That hasn’t been defined yet, that’ll be defined once the committee has been set up. [They talked] about possibly having some type of tax incentive and tax breaks for new businesses to come into Tewksbury. To see if we can lure them in at least to get them started.â€￾

Reed said once the form of the industrial group is decided upon, it could be a measure that will require going before Town Meeting.

“[The formation of an industrial group] was something that was part of our master plan,â€￾ said Reed.

While Sadwick said the type of industries that will be brought in have not yet been decided, he mentioned businesses that “haven’t moved in quite a while like the Old Raytheon property on Woburn Street and the Ames Pond Corporate Center.â€￾

While there is no definite timeframe for when the industrial group will be decided on, Sadwick said he estimates that within a six-week timeframe both municipal boards should have information presented to them.
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What's our town planner doing?

Postby Harry on Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:57 pm

You know I must say that I have never really understood this thirst for new development thing. What exactly is the benefit to the taxpayer? I realize that the developer’s make profits from new development. I realize it increases the tax base for cities and towns. But all I have ever seen it cause is increased spending leading to even greater financial strain on cities and towns.

It has long been said in the cynical world of those who follow politics that if you give your government one dollar in new tax revenue the government promptly spends two dollars.

What exactly have we gained by the Home Depot, Walmart, Walgreens, turning route 38 into a one hour drive from Wilmington to Lowell on most weekend days? Sure the town is taking in more tax revenue, but we are broker than we have ever been, are we not?

If development is the save all for all financial woes how does one explain the situations in Boston, Lawrence, Lowell and the like? Were they not like Tewksbury at one time in terms of open space, trees, clean air? They developed themselves by building on everything in sight, cutting down any tree in their way, filling in wet lands, destroying the environment in more ways that can be counted. Are the taxpayers better off by any of this? Doesn’t seem that way to me. These towns are flat broke. The taxpayers are getting far fewer services than ever. And of course when they have the nerve to protest there is no shortage of politicians spouting the old “Citizens have to decide what kind of town the want to live inâ€￾ which is a euphemism for shut up and pay more taxes.

I actually think development raises taxes, over burdens tax payers, causes government to over spend, and eventually causes services to be reduced as government takes more and more from the tax base in an effort to compensate for increased/over spending by them.

Can any pro development individual here post an argument as to how development helps the taxpayers?
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What's our town planner doing?

Postby redbarchetta69 on Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:22 pm

It depends on the development that comes in. Development here has been focused on 40B housing, strip malls, and big box stores. Meanwhile Andover, Wilmington, and now Billerica have focused on high-tech/light industry. Look at Wilmington for instance. They managed to attract several companies to relocate off 93. Now they are building more commerial development knowing the housing market will slow down. Last time I checked they have no user fees dumped on the schools to pay for shortcomings elsewhere.

Our problem is we are spening money that will never come in. The Colonial water tower, sewer, and senior palace were built in anicipation for the mall. No that it's not coming we will pay the cost for years to come in the form of higher taxes. Other towns know how to spend money and where to get it. We don't, and that's why we are, for a lack of a better word, f***ed.
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