As of May 17 at 3:04 p.m., the Factory of the Future finally has a future.
That is when the deed transferring the 22-acre site in West Lyn n from General Electric to a group of investors was recorded at the Southern Essex Registry of Deeds. The property is now owned by 40 Federal Street Realty Holdings LLC – a group led by Charles Patsios of Swampscott – which plans to lease it to the Market Basket grocery store company.
“This brings back life to 22 acres of dormant land in West Lynn,” said Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, who made this issue one of her priorities since taking office in 2010. “It will also give people in West Lynn and beyond another supermarket choice.”
More importantly, the mayor pointed out, is the job creation. “Approximately 500 full- and part-time jobs would be created by a Market Basket on that property,” Kennedy said, adding that the city will realize a significant increase in tax revenue as well.
“This is a huge victory for the city,” said EDIC Executive Director James Cowdell. “We have been looking at 22 acres of asphalt for more than 20 years; now there will finally be some meaningful development on that site.”
Cowdell and other city officials had for many years urged GE to do environmental cleaning on the site for the purpose of redevelopment, but it was not until the fall of 2011 that there was any serious movement on the part of the company, after Kennedy initiated discussions with GE corporate officials in Connecticut and New York.
“We had extensive talks with the local GE people who were very understanding of our desire to see the property sold,” Kennedy said. “When we felt as if we weren’t making major strides, we decided it would be preferable to go to corporate.” Kennedy convened a meeting in October 2011 that was attended by local and corporate GE representatives.
“That meeting set this process in motion and ultimately led to the sale of the property,” Cowdell said.
According to James Moore, an attorney representing 40 Federal Street Realty Holdings, the City Council’s rezoning of the land from heavy industrial to business district earlier this year paved the way for his clients to purchase the property.
“We are pleased to have now sold the former GE West Lynn site. This transaction will hopefully allow for redevelopment of the property in a manner that is deemed positive and that ultimately benefits the city and its residents,” said GE spokesman Rich Gorham.
In the early 1980s, GE built the $42 million Factory of the Future, which featured automated manufacturing of engine parts. After orders decreased, the building was closed in 1992. It was subsequently used for training machine operators, but it was shut down permanently and mothballed in 1996.
GE worked with a Mass. licensed site professional to conduct the response actions necessary to bring the majority of the site to environmental closure and make it available for redevelopment.
“This is a great win for everyone involved, and our team now looks forward to switching gears and working with the new owners to help them and their future tenants bring this property back to life,” said Community Development Director James Marsh. “The significance of this deal and what it will do for the City of Lynn cannot be overstated.”