NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on Friday cleared the way for the Walmart Supercenter to move forward.
New Secretary of Energy Richard K. Sullivan signed off on the project's environmental impact report, saying it "adequately ad properly complies" with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.
The 157,000 square-foot store will be built on the city's old gravel bank at the intersection of Hodges Cross Road and Curran Memorial Highway. The property is in an industrial zone and consists of 26.7 acres. It will include two points of access, including a reconfiguration of the current jug handle at the Route 8 intersection.
The project will alter 21 acres, creating 12.2 acres of "impervious surface" and 701 parking spots.
The store has received its permits from both the city Planning Board and Conservation Commission; it still needs a federal permit for pollutant discharge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It's expected to discharge more than 10,000 gallons of waste water a day into Adams waste-water treatment plant to the south.
The developers have been grading the site and addressing prior wetlands violations and waste dumping on the property.
In his decision, posted below, Sullivan urged the company to further invest in clean technology.
"While I am pleased with the progress and impact it will have on the energy use and GHG emissions at the proposed North Adams store, I continue to urge Walmart to make a significant commitment to sustainability and the burgeoning solar industry in Massachusetts by incorporating solar PV into new buildings such as this one."
Construction is expected to take from 15 to 18 months, putting the store's opening sometime in the late summer of fall of 2012.
Here's a short roundup of some interesting business news from last month.
Bus Company Putting Brakes on Tours Dufour Tours is getting out of the tour business. The Berkshire Eagle reported last week that owners William and Barbara Dufour are seeking to sell the 40-year-old motor coach business before they retire. The Dufours, who also operate a regional school bus fleet of nearly 200, have four 2007 Prevost Co. motor coaches. The vehicles run around $450,000.
That's down from a dozen or so back in the 1990s. The company was started by William Dufour's father and uncle in Connecticut and made inroads into the Berkshires after buying Yellow Bus Lines in the 1960s. It now manages most of the school bus routes in Western Mass. and Southern Vermont.
Dufour Tours over the years have included multiday trips to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, DisneyWorld and Canada. Their one-day trips bring people to Boston for historic tours, to Fall River for shopping and New York City for Broadway productions.
William Dufour told The Eagle that several bus lines were interested in buying the tour business; if not sold, the division would likely be shut down.
Walmart on Track
The $17 million Walmart SuperCenter planned for the city's former gravel yard is expected to break ground this spring and be built within the next year or so. That's pretty much on schedule according to a rough time line offered the Planning Board last spring.
The North Adams Transcript reported last month that remediation work at the site, specifically for asbestos, has been completed and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to a reconfigured intersection at Hodges Cross Road that will eliminate the current jug handle. More cleanup at the site has to be completed before the land, owned by developer Ceruzzi Properties, is sold to Walmart and construction can begin.
Walmart is estimated to generate some $594,000 in revenue for the city, and bring nearly a $1 million in wages annually. The supercenter will be 157,000 square feet and include a 38,000-square-foot grocery.
BJ's Wholesale Club may have a buyer. The East Coast chain put itself up for auction in November; analysts say if a private investment firm purchased it, the company would be better positioned to move into markets dominated by its competitors Costco and Sam's Club.
The chain is currently building a new store in Pittsfield off Hubbard Avenue that's expected to create more than 100 jobs.
The wholesale club first operated by the Zayre Corp. is being eyed by Leonard Green & Partners. The equity firm just bought out Jo-Ann's Stores (which also has a location in Pittsfield) and may launch a hostile takeover if the previously announced auction isn't set.
Update, Jan. 5, 2011, 8:44 a.m.: The Boston Globe reports that the company will close five stores and layoff 500, including 114 from its Natick headquarters.
Defense Spending Benefits State
Two Berkshire County companies — Draper Laboratories Inc. and General Dynamics — are about to reap the rewards of military spending but they're not alone. A column in MassLive.com cites a new study by the University of Massachusetts that shows federal military spending has increased 146 percent in the Bay State in less than 10 years.
The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security has pumped $146.2 million in conctracts to 237 Western Massachusetts companies just in 2009. The study states "The value of federal defense contracts awarded to Massachusetts firms has increased by nearly 200 percent from $5.5 billion in 2001 to $15.6 billion in 2009" and supported more than 115,000 jobs.
"Even as the overall economy has struggled in the face of two recessions and fundamental industry shifts, defense has surged ahead," writes Allan Blair, president of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., and Richard Lord, president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
The study can also be found at our scribd.com account here.
Editor: In general, we do not provide links to articles from the local papers because they are archived behind a paywall within two weeks of publication. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Word is a Walmart Supercenter is headed our way. According to a report in the North Adams Transcript, the multinational retailer has filed plans at North Adams City Hall for a 160,000 square-foot building at the city's old gravel bank.
Ceruzzi Properties of Fairfield, Conn., acting as BVS 5401 Investors LLC, purchased the nearby Dellaghelfa properties at 1519 South State St. and West Road for about $2.2 million in 2007, the city's gravel pit for $700,000 in 2008, according to documents in the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds, and the former North Adams Plaza in 2004 for $2.5 million.
Nigro Development LLC of Albany, N.Y., had originally taken out a purchase-and-sales agreement for the gravel bank, then became a silent partner with what was then Starwood Ceruzzi to develop both the gravel and the plaza. Nigro is currently believed to be out of the picture.
A Lowe's is planned for the old North Adams Plaza that's been coming down piecemeal over the past few months. The Supercenter will include groceries, electronics and expanded lawn and garden departments.
No word on what will go in the old Walmart, but the discount chain has planned aggressive growth over the next two years despite the economic downturn. In October, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it would expand globally by 14 million square feet in this fiscal year and by 11 million next year.
Most of that will be through remodels and a focus on supercenters; the corporation expects to spend upwards of $25 billion (yes, BILLION) in capital construction over the next two years.
The plans will go before the Planning Board on Dec. 14.