A major “last-mile” warehouse on Market Street that would be strongly pitched to e-commerce companies, such as Amazon, would not only bring new investment to the Second Street industrial area, but also solve long-time flooding issues in most of the southern half of Everett.
The Davis Companies pitched its project to the City’s Planning Board at a Nov. 10 meeting of the body as the company’s first public airing of the project at the Board. The project certainly has the goal of attracting an e-commerce tenant to a brand new 220,000 sq. ft., one-story warehouse distribution facility, but in the shorter term the project would also solve a long-standing issue with flooding caused by collapsed drainage pipes leading up to and under the site – which Davis acquired last fall.
“If you’re wondering what I’ve been doing the last year, I’ve been working very closely with the City Engineer and his counterpart in Chelsea to design and repair that culvert,” said Chris Mora, of the Davis Companies. “We expect to do a groundbreaking on that part a couple months from now on that.”
The Market Street culvert has been a source of ire for more than 10 years, and causes severe flooding issues on Spring Street and further up into Everett. The culvert is formerly the Island End River, and drains about 430 acres of Everett. The collapse has prevented the proper flow and has resulted in litigation and horrible flooding for a long time. That intends to be fixed very soon, Mora said.
The City will be undertaking a project to “daylight” the culvert and allow the free flow of water on the surface. That will account for about 400 feet of the problem and is more environmentally sound as well and prevents and future collapses because it is open to the air.
The Davis Companies will undertake the complete replacement of 280 feet of culvert under their property as part of the agreement with the two cities, and at a cost of $7.2 million. They will replace a 16’ x 9’ corrugated steel culvert with a 16’ x 12’ concrete box culvert. Another 70 feet of concrete box culvert will be in Chelsea.
Beyond that issue is the actual project, the warehouse.
The large warehouse would be targeted to companies looking for “last mile” distribution for e-commerce. There, however, is no tenant as of yet.
“We have built into the program for a last-mile distribution warehouse and now we understand how these facilities operate, but we don’t have yet a contract with a potential tenant,” said Mora. “Hopefully during the course of the next month or two we will have news on that.”
Traffic Consultant Liz Peart of Howard Stein Hudson said the building would have 185 employee parking spaces and 495 parking spaces for the delivery van fleet. The peak traffic for such a facility would be around 5-6 a.m. when they expect about 120 vehicles per hour. That said, there are currently 1,300 trips to the existing Market Terminal, and there would be an estimated 994 to the new warehouse. That, Peart said, would mean an overall reduction in traffic to the site.
Planning Board Member Leo Pizzano said the traffic estimates were made using a Produce Market as a base of operations, while this would be an Amazon type facility such as is located on Beacham Street a short distance away.
“You’re building a really nice building,” he said. “It would behoove us to know if we have a produce center there or Amazon there or someone using all these vans.”
Member Jim Tarr wondered if there were alternate options built into the plan if no e-commerce tenant emerges.
“The building is designed with the thought of if we don’t end up with an e-commerce tenant, then we can design it also for a more traditional tenant,” Mora said.
“I’m happy to hear that; I’m glad it’s not Amazon or bust,” said Tarr.
Davis Companies agreed to pay $25,000 for a peer review study, and they will likely be back to the Board on Dec. 7 or in January.