Local Government and Politics, News

Amazon is coming to Revere

REVERE — In what he’s calling one of the most significant commercial developments in the city’s history, Mayor Brian Arrigo announced Thursday Amazon is coming to Revere.

“This is a leap into Revere’s future as a strong, modernized and prosperous city,” Arrigo said. “Amazon’s investment in our community will invigorate the local economy and promote Revere as a place where prominent, innovation-driven businesses are welcome and can thrive.”

The Seattle-based e-commerce company signed its lease with property owners Atlantic Management and V.M.D. Companies LLC Monday and will open its newest delivery station at the former New England Confectionery Company (Necco) candy company site next spring.  

The development is expected to create 600 to 800 full- and part-time jobs, which will make Amazon the city’s largest employer. Positions, which will mainly consist of warehousing and distribution, will start at $15 an hour, according to Arrigo. 

The news comes as Arrigo faces a challenge by City Councilor-at-Large and former Mayor Dan Rizzo. Arrigo beat Rizzo in 2015 by 118 votes. The former mayor returned to the City Council after topping the ticket in the 2017 election.   

In the months leading up to opening its Greater Boston distribution center at 135 American Legion Highway, Amazon is expected to invest $30-40 million worth of renovations into the 830,000 square-foot building. 

The property has been vacant since Necco, the country’s oldest continuously operating candy company, abruptly shut down in September 2018.  

“Any time somebody says they’re going to create 600 to 800 jobs in a city the size of Revere, we’re excited about that and it’s a big win for the city of Revere,” the mayor said. 

But attracting the world’s largest retailer to Revere has been a long road, Arrigo said. 

It all started with Necco not following through on its tax incentive agreement on the property. Despite the tax break given by the city, the company owed more than $3 million in back taxes and had not paid its water and sewer bills, Arrigo said. 

After the 50-acre property was sold in April 2017, Arrigo said the city worked with the new owners, Atlantic Management and V.M.D., to make sure the taxes and bills were paid, and discussed how the site could be used to create jobs. 

The next step was for the City Council to rezone the property in the fall of 2017, which restricted its use to advanced commercial activity, including technology warehousing and e-commerce, and was aimed at attracting a company like Amazon, said Arrigo, who credited Ward 5 Councilor John Powers for advocating for the restriction. 

“We really set the table for a company like Amazon to come in,” Arrigo said. “We made sure that we didn’t just rush into a company that was looking to take 100,000 to 200,000 square-feet of the site, and waited for  a big fish. I don’t think there’s a fish much bigger than Amazon.” 

But it was an earlier rejection from Amazon that may have served as the catalyst for the company investing in Revere. 

Revere was one of 20 metropolitan areas under consideration by Amazon last year for its highly sought after new HQ2 headquarters. The city and Boston filed a joint application, which, if accepted would have brought the company to Suffolk Downs and created 50,000 jobs. 

Ultimately, Amazon chose New York City and Northern Virginia as its new headquarters, but a deal fell through and led to them nixing the Big Apple and focusing on the other victor instead.

But the city had an ace in the hole, Arrigo said. 

Revere officials made a separate case in the proposal for the former Necco site, opting to include a page that pointed out the property’s proximity to Boston and made a pitch for the quality of Revere’s workforce.

“We actually heard feedback from the Amazon folks that they thought  that site, and seeing that page in the proposal was an eye-opener for them,” Arrigo said. 

Joseph Zink, chief executive officer of Atlantic Management, a Framingham-based real estate development firm, and James L. Vitas II, managing director and founder of V.M.D. Companies, a North Andover-based real estate and development company, praised the city’s efforts to attract Amazon in separate statements. 

Zink credited the mayor, the city’s Economic Development team and the City Council for working to assure Amazon brass that Revere could be a long-term home for the company. 

“Mayor Arrigo was hyper-focused on increasing employment with smart economic growth policies,” said Vitas in a statement. “This is a big win for Revere and the region.”

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