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Big Y In Line For Big Tax Break For $46 Million Springfield Warehouse Project

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   City Councilors in Springfield, Massachusetts are poised to vote on a big tax break to support an expansion project by a long-time city-based company.

   The council’s Finance and Economic Development Committees at a joint meeting Monday unanimously endorsed a proposed eight-year tax incentive for Big Y Foods, which is planning a $46 million expansion project at its grocery warehouse and distribution center in Springfield.

    In a report to the council, officials from the city’s economic development office said the proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement with Big Y will save the company an estimated $4.6 million in property tax payments.  Over the course of the eight-year term, the city would receive an additional $6.2 million in new taxes because of the project.

   Richard Allen, the chairman of the city’s Board of Assessors, spoke in support of the agreement at the joint meeting of the two city council committees.

  "This is a major economic boost for the city," said Allen.

   Eleven months ago, Big Y revealed plans to build a 223,000-square foot addition to its distribution center that was constructed in 1995 on Roosevelt Avenue in east Springfield.   The new warehouse will be 50 stories tall and roughly the length of 10 football fields.

  Big Y officials said the new facility will support the company’s retail expansion plans for the next 20 years.

Allen said the agreement requires Big Y to create 32 new full-time jobs.

" The support, supply chain, and distrubtion which Big Y's capacity offers local businesses, including startups, in the food industry, we think is a major benefit of this TIF,"  Allen told the councilors.

Councilor Tim Ryan, who chairs the council’s Finance Committee, called the proposed tax incentive agreement between Big Y and the city a “reasonable deal.”

"We incentivize them to stay here and expand here and recognize the good work they do in this community," said Allen.

The agreement calls for Big Y to make its “best efforts” to give at least 50 percent of the new jobs the project will create to Springfield residents, noted City Councilor Adam Gomez, who chairs the Economic Development Committee.

  " So, why not help out a local business to make sure they keep our people employed," said Gomez.

   Some site preparation work on the project has already started.  Big Y officials said the goal is to have the warehouse expansion finished by the middle of 2020.

  With 80 stores in Massachusetts locations from just north of Boston to the New York state line in Berkshire County and throughout Connecticut, Big Y is the fourth-largest supermarket chain in New England.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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