Pizza Chain Owner Wins Amesbury Project Money

February 15, 2010 : The Eagle-Tribune, by Lynne Hendricks

AMESBURY — Years of planning are poised to come to fruition in the area of Amesbury’s “Golden Triangle,” a tract of commercially zoned, undeveloped land off Route 110.

According to Mayor Thatcher Kezer, a commercial developer interested in the property has secured funding from MassDevelopment to build 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of office space in that general area, which he said Friday could mean more revenue via an increased commercial tax base and as many as 100 high-paying jobs for the town.

“This is the new growth that we’ve been talking about,” said Kezer of the plan proposed by Riverwalk Properties of Lawrence. Riverwalk Properties is owned by Sal Lupoli, better known outside of Lawrence for his successful Sal’s Pizza chain. As a developer, Lupoli has been credited with transforming some of Lawrence’s once crumbling mill buildings into thriving commercial entities. The Riverwalk Mills complex he owns houses 200 businesses and 2,000 employees, according to a report in The Eagle-Tribune in 2008. Among them is a medical center for Pentucket Medical Associates.

According to Kelsey Abbruzzese of MassDevelopment, Riverwalk has been issued preliminary approval of a $12.6 million loan for its proposed project, which would focus on building a medical complex of sorts, said Kezer.

“What’s being proposed is medical office facilities,” said the mayor. “Phase I is looking at between 40,000-50,000 square feet of buildings with the anticipation that it will bring in additional facilities.”

From the plans Kezer’s been privy to, the developer aims to bring in doctors and diagnostic offices, in keeping with a current trend to localize these buildings in one area for the convenience of the populace.

“Typically what happens is other medical providers start coming in as a cluster around it,” said Kezer. “More and more, these (medical) types of services are being done in these types of settings.”

Kezer said the developer is currently negotiating with a tenant group on hammering out the terms of its relocation to the Amesbury site, after which he anticipates a speedy process to build and get the buildings up and running.

A call to Amesbury’s Economic Development Director Joe Fahey, seeking details of the proposed project, was not returned Friday, but Kezer said his feeling is the group is ready to move quickly.

“There’s the developer who’s going to build the facilities and they’re negotiating with companies who will come in and use these buildings,” he said. “This is private sector deal — they’re going to be moving fast. Their intentions are as soon as all the pieces are in place to start making their moves.”

Once the developer works out final arrangements with a tenant and ultimate approval from MassDevelopment, the project will head to the town’s committees and boards for permitting and approval, he said. While several pieces of the deal have yet to come into place, Kezer was feeling optimistic that the work of town planners to streamline permitting at the site and zone it to allow for just this kind of development, was finally paying off.

“This is the reason for all the things we’ve been doing in the last four years,” he said. “It’s starting to bear fruit.”

© Copyright 2010 The Eagle-Tribune.