By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – The town is making many right moves in order to attract more businesses, according to three commercial real estate brokers who met with the Economic Development Committee (EDC) at its meeting Jan. 3.
Todd Alexander, William Lynch and Timothy O”Brien work for the Boston office of Colliers International, a full-service real estate brokerage firm.
Alexander, a vice president of the company, said there are signs that the overall economic picture going forth will be more positive than it was in 2011.
“The national vacancy rate for retail space is about 7 percent, while it is below 5 percent in Massachusetts,” he said. “Holiday sales are expected to go up 2 to 3 percent. Banks seem to be doing deals again. So we are cautiously optimistic.”
O”Brien, an assistant vice president, said that the Route 495 Metrowest area had been hit hard over the last few years, especially in Marlborough, where corporate giants Hewlett-Packard and Fidelity Investments have both departed. But while rents in much of the 495 area were around $15.40 a square foot, they were approximately $18.40 in Westborough, he said.
His company was also working on marketing a 120,000-square-foot building on Walkup Drive to potentially attract a major company, such as one in the life science sector, he added.
Alexander said that Westborough officials had done a good job streamlining the permit process for businesses.
“I think the town is taking all the right steps,” he said. “Plus the town officials are always easily accessible.”
In other business, the EDC reviewed its new website, which once finalized, will be linked to the town's website (which has also recently been revised). According to EDC members Deborah Penta and Mark Stockman (who is also the town's MIS/GIS director), the new site will be a resource where businesses and real estate brokers can easily find information and links to other town departments.
The preliminary model also has space to highlight three potential developments as well as a direct link to contact the town's Building Commissioner/Zoning Enforcement Officer Tin Htway. There will also be information regarding the town's designation as a platinum bio-ready community.
EDC members will review the new site over the next month. Penta said she is anticipating that if all goes according to plan, the site could go live by mid-February.