Developer requests demolition and redevelopment of Westborough BJ site
WESTBOROUGH — A Boston developer has expressed interest in demolishing BJ’s old headquarters on Research Drive and replacing it with four new buildings.
The redevelopment proposed by Samuel & Associates, a commercial real estate broker, would total more than 600,000 square feet and be used as space for life sciences, manufacturing and research and development.
Currently, 25 Research Drive contains a 282,000 square foot building that was constructed in 1965. Samuel & Associates is also considering purchasing 29 Research Drive, which contains a 26,136 square foot building and a storage yard currently owned by Triboro Crane & Rigging Services.
The two properties cover almost 70 acres. Twenty-five Research Drive has an assessed value of $23.5 million and 29 Research Drive has an assessed value of $2.3 million.
“The existing buildings on both lots are outdated and inefficient, making it difficult to attract tenants and talent to this location once existing tenants leave,” says a report by RL O’Connell & Associates, a firm of civil engineering hired by Samuel & Associates. . “The proposed redevelopment will replace existing outdated buildings and site improvements with new buildings and materials to today’s standards that will attract quality tenants and talent.”
The report says three of the new buildings will be between 135,000 square feet and 190,000 square feet, with the fourth being smaller – 10,000 square feet.
According to Westborough planner Jim Robbins, the proposal is undergoing site plan review and is undergoing a public hearing. The area is zoned general industrial and is part of the city’s Industrial Overlay District.
Robbins said careful consideration had to be given to where buildings were to be erected before a special permit could be granted.
“Both plots are close to wetlands, so the final placement of properties is going to be very important,” he said.
Samuel & Associates officials declined to comment for this story.
Although the project will double the size of the buildings currently on the property, they will house fewer employees and potentially carry less traffic due to the change in building use.
“The buildings will actually accommodate fewer employees; the office building can currently accommodate approximately 1,500 employees. However, these are office spaces, where people are stacked in cubicles,” Robbins said. “With space for research and development, they need more space for their work than is currently in this building, which is primarily for sales.”
BJ’s announced earlier this year that it was leaving its headquarters at 25 Research Drive and moving to 100 Campus Drive in Marlborough. The departure presents an opportunity to redevelop an aging office building that was originally built for Massachusetts Electric (later National Grid).
“Redevelopment is replacing an underdeveloped or underutilized property with something new,” Robbins said. “We’ve seen similar projects done on Otis Street with Amazon and what they’ve done with the properties they’ve purchased.”
The next public hearing for the site plan review application will be on Tuesday.