Sewer capacity a concern in Westborough BJ’s site redevelopment plan

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25 Research Drive has, for the past 10 years, been home to the headquarters of BJ’s Wholesalers. (Photo/Tami White)

WESTBOROUGH – Planning Board members and developers of the soon-to-be former BJ’s headquarters off Route 9 in Westborough voiced concerns, last month, about sewer capacity for the project. 

Samuels & Associates Senior Vice President of Development Mike Fitzpatrick told the Planning Board on May 24 that the developers had met with the town engineering and public works departments. 

“We do know that there is a capacity issue right now at the treatment plant,” Fitzpatrick said.

Planning Board discusses capacity concerns

Samuels & Associates, a Boston-based real estate developer, has filed plans to redevelop both the BJ’s site at 25 Research Drive and a separate site occupied by Triboro Crane and Rigging Services at 29 Research Drive. 

Fitzpatrick said that, when the developers submitted their application for the project, they were looking for a certain amount of sewer flow.

“We were told loud and clear that the town isn’t yet able to commit to that amount, and that we have to collectively look at how we might revisit some of the elements of what we’re proposing for building systems and design that could have a reduction of flow,” Fitzpatrick said. 

Planning Board member Hazel Nourse said that sewer capacity was one of her main concerns.

“I think the Planning Board has to be aware of the fact that we can’t let one planned building or project come in and use a majority of what we have as availability in the sewer plant,” Nourse said.

She added that the Planning Board has to look at all of Westborough.

“There may be other industries or other types of projects that might also want to use some of the sewer,” Nourse said. “It’s a balancing thing the Planning Board really has to look at as to how we allocate what we have, which really, quite frankly, is quite a limited amount.”

Developer eyes ‘innovation campus’

During the Planning Board’s May meeting, Samuels & Associates officials presented information on utilities, traffic and landscaping for their envisioned site. 

The parcels at 25 and 29 Research Drive together constitute a 68.11-acre plot. 

According to Fitzpatrick, Samuels & Associates is proposing developing the site into a state-of-the-art innovation campus that includes a combination of life science, research and development, office and amenity spaces and GMP manufacturing. 

GMP manufacturing stands for Good Manufacturing Practice Manufacturing, which Fitzpatrick said is a highly regulated type of manufacturing because of the type of work being done and medicines and gene therapies that are being developed.

“We’re creating an environment [where] people can come and really be energized and feel good and work together and collaborate in this space and create these amazing things that are, especially now, in the forefront of what’s in the news,” Fitzpatrick said.

Samuels & Associates is planning to demolish existing buildings in the area to then construct three mixed-use facilities totaling 705,000 square feet. There would be a fourth smaller amenity building under current proposals.  

The developers said last month that all utilities will be replaced, including sewer services. 

Fitzpatrick said the developers had another meeting scheduled with town officials as of May 24, specifically with the goal to understand the current allocations and available sewer capacity. 

“We’re fully aware that there’s a treatment capacity challenge and we’re working through it with the town,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s the top of our list to figure out as well.”

This project is now expected to be back before the Planning Board on June 28. 

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