Westborough Planning Board green lights Amazon Robotics expansion

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The Westborough Planning Board recently approved plans for a new facility at 54 Otis Street, next to Amazon Robotics’ existing 50 Otis Street site. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

WESTBOROUGH – A plan to build a new 100,000 square-foot building next to Westborough’s existing Amazon Robotics facility is moving forward after obtaining unanimous Planning Board approval on Tuesday.

Plans were submitted by Atlantic Management Corporation and its entity Atlantic-Westborough Realty LLC. They call for a structure at 54 Otis Street, which will represent an expansion of Amazon’s existing site at 50 Otis Street.

“The Planning Board finds and determines…that the project constitutes a suitable development and will not result in substantial detriment to the neighborhood,” Town Planner Jim Robbins read on May 3.

What is proposed

Atlantic’s team first presented plans to the Planning Board on April 5. 

As attorney Robert Buckley described it, they were proposing to build a companion and supplemental research and development facility that would tie into the work being done at Amazon Robotics.

“We have had this in the planning for quite some time,” Buckley said.

Atlantic-Westboro Realty LLC purchased the site in September 2020. According to the developer’s application, the project will sit on a site that will ultimately span just under 11 acres.

The site is currently occupied by a home and garage, which will be demolished according to the application.

Amazon has previously used the property as a temporary parking lot during the construction of its robotics facility, engineer William Park said.

Plans show a building with an 81,900-square-foot footprint and a 20,000-square-foot second level. There will be 186 parking spaces.

Park said there are also plans to install infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations.

There will be one driveway into the site, though Park noted that there will also be a shared driveway with Amazon Robotics.

Truck traffic is set to flow through that shared driveway between the two sites, Park said.

“It’s a much more friendly turning movement into the proposed loading dock,” he continued.

Robert Michaud, the managing principal of MDM Transportation Consultants, separately presented the results of a transportation impact study on April 5.

According to his presentation, the developers are anticipating 766 daily trips, including 113 trips during the morning weekday peak hour and 104 trips during the evening weekday peak hour.

It’s estimated that the building will have about 230 employees.

Regal Cinema security concerns discussed

Snow sat piled against the front door of Westborough’s former Regal Cinema location in January of this year. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

During their deliberations this week, Planning Board member Hazel Nourse asked whether the board’s decision should require the building owner to provide security beyond simply locking doors when the proposed building is vacant.

“I’m just throwing this out as a question because it’s a large building,” she said. “It’s close to a public street.”

She asked whether the board has ever required an applicant to have a security company occasionally check in on the building.

“You’re thinking about the cinema,” Robbins said, referencing Westborough’s former Regal Cinema property.

“Absolutely,” Nourse said.

The Regal site is now owned by the town after the theater abruptly closed its doors more than four years ago.

The closure kicked off a search for the property’s owners and ultimately resulted in the town being awarded ownership through a tax lien foreclosure process.

During Town Meeting in March, Police Chief Jeffrey Lourie said that officers are at the cinema every day and during every shift, dealing with issues ranging from vandalism to a sex offender being found being the building with a “young child.”

“Obviously, that’s an unusual circumstance because they didn’t know who the owner was,” Robbins said on Tuesday. “In this case, there will still be an owner to the building. We know who the owner is. This is a boilerplate.”

Buckley added that there will be electronic and motion-sensing security.

Nourse suggested that Buckley could return to the Planning Board to discuss further security measures if the buildings became vacant.

Amazon expands

The property at 4400 Computer Drive contains a helipad, among other things. A project to build a sprawling e-commerce distribution center here was recently approved. Photo/Laura Hayes
The Westborough Planning Board approved plans for an e-commerce distribution center at 4400 Computer Drive last summer. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

This is the latest of several moves by Amazon to expand its presence in Westborough.

The company was already in town in a smaller location on Technology Drive in 2019 when it announced its expansion into its current robotics facility on Otis Street.

Amazon then acquired a massive parcel on Computer Drive late last year, which it plans to develop as a last mile fulfillment center.

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