City Council green lights BJs tax deal

277

By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

Sun glints off the front of one of two buildings on Campus Drive in Marlborough that BJs Wholesale Club plans to move its headquarters into, next year. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

MARLBOROUGH—BJs Wholesale Club’s is seeking a tax-increment financing agreement (TIF) associated with its plan to move its Westborough headquarters to 100 and 350 Campus Drive in Marlborough.

The City Council approved that tax deal at its May 10 meeting. However, the vote was not unanimous. 

Decision follows Finance Committee meeting

The City Council passed the TIF with an 8 to 3 vote.

This followed a Finance Committee meeting on May 3 where Mayor Arthur Vigeant, along with BJs representatives, gave a detailed presentation regarding the move.

The committee voted to recommend the full Council approve the TIF agreement, that night.

Vigeant did concede that while BJs isn’t planning on hiring new employees living in Marlborough.

Rather, it is bringing approximately 800 current employees from the current Westborough headquarters.

Still, Vigeant noted Marlborough will see benefits from this as more people will be in town to visit restaurants, retail establishments and hotels.

BJs offers details of agreement

BJs is planning to lease 187,825 square feet in two buildings.

They’ll take up 168,581 square feet at 350 Campus Drive and 19,244 square feet at 100 Campus Drive.

The company also plans on building a 120,000 square foot parking structure for 300 cars, solely for its employees, at a cost of $8 million.

BJs anticipates spending $15 to $18 million on interior construction including office space and the installation of a data center.

The TIF agreement starts July 1, 2022 and runs for 20 years.  The tax exemption percentage starts at 100 percent and decreases over time. It is based on the cost of the new parking structure.

The Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) oversees all TIF agreements to ensure that the companies meet agreement criteria including job creation and monetary investments.

Several councilors question need for a tax incentive

As the TIF passed on May 10, opinions on the City Council itself were split.

With the city’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget process underway, and amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Council Mark Oram voted against granting BJs the TIF.

“I don’t think a TIF is going to matter [to BJs,]” he said.  “What matters is location, highway access, access to utilities. So, they’re coming to Marlborough.”

Councilor Samantha Perlman echoed Oram’s sentiments and didn’t feel a tax incentive was necessary, particularly during a tough tax revenue year.

“Marlborough sells itself,” she said.