October 19, 2017

Leominster offers 400 acres, $405M to Amazon

This 30-acre capped landfill is among the sites Leominster is offering to Amazon for its HQ2.

The City of Leominster is offering more than 400 acres of public and private land and a tax breaks worth up to $405 million to lure online commerce giant Amazon's second headquarters.

There are multiple sites in the city's proposal, including two city-owned sites and several other privately-owned sites totaling about 457 acres.

Leominster is one of many cities and states submitted a bid to land Seattle-based Amazon's second headquarters, which is expected to bring 50,000 high-paying jobs and a $5-billion infrastructure investment to whichever area the company chooses. Bids are due today.

The company is seeking a city with a metropolitan area with at least 1 million people.

Leominster falls short with a population of about 40,000, but is within an hour's drive of the most populated areas in New England.

One 30.86-acre city-owned site is on a capped landfill off of the Leominster Connector roadway the city says can fit 858,000-square feet of office space.

Another site, this one much larger at 216 acres, would be able to fit 8.1 million square feet of office space - exactly what Amazon is looking for in its search for a second headquarters.

The site is directly off of I-190 and is mostly owned by Leominster with some private ownership.

Another site, a mostly undeveloped business park owned by a private entity on Pioneer Road, could accommodate Amazon's full buildout, according to the city's bid.

The city has eyed a privately-owned 44.60-acre site owned by a private entity on Tanzio Road.

The city is in talks with other private entities, but due to a confidentiality agreement, officials could not disclose the properties in question, said Greg Chapeldine, Leominster's purchasing agent.

With the private land factored in, the city is offering 457 acres of land for Amazon.

Chapeldine said local businesses and engineering firms donated their time to draw up renderings of what a potential Amazon site would look like at the proposed sites.

Economic Development Coordinator Lisa Marrone said the city is prepared to offer up to $405 million in tax breaks over 13 years via a special tax assessment.

City officials would still have to approve whatever agreement is drawn up, Marrone said.

The tax incentive tool is rarely used to lure businesses that is essentially a declining tax exemption, but Leominster has used it before to lure office furniture manufacturer AIS to a 540,000-square-foot space in the city.

The city would still receive more than $1.8 billion in tax revenue over that time, Chapeldine said.

"Of course, we're trying [to convince Amazon to] not go to the big city because of congestion and the high costs," he said, touting the city's affordable housing stock and proximity to educational institutions in Worcester and Boston.


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