By Aaron Keebaugh
Last week, Mayor Dan Rizzo approached the city council with a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan that would help Squire Charger Realty LLC continue with its current development and entice Market Basket to move to the Northgate Shopping Center on Squire Road.
During a meeting of the Economic Development Subcommittee Monday afternoon, city councillors and city officials took time to discuss the proposal that, if approved, would provide the business with tax exemptions worth $100,000 a year for ten years.
“This really fits in with the economic development strategy to bring quality businesses to Revere,” said Economic Development Director John Festa. He added that it will be a catalyst for future development at the Northgate Shopping Center, and “Hopefully this TIF will not be the only one… We’re going to continue to be proactive.”
David Sweetser, owner of Squire Charger Realty LLC, told the councillors that the building construction will be finished by early summer 2013 and Market Basket will likely open soon after that.
But a Revere Market Basket is not a done deal. Council President Richard Penta noted that the low-cost grocery store would likely not come to Revere if the council did not approve the TIF.
The city councillors all seem to support the agreement and several voiced their support Monday.
“I welcome Market Basket to the city of Revere,” said Councillor-at-Large John Correggio. Ward 6 Councillor Charles Patch said, “I have gotten nothing but calls of support for Market Basket…The more commercial property we get [the better],” adding that similar TIF agreements have worked well for Chelsea.
Penta noted that Market Basket, should the TIF agreement be approved, will generate more tax revenue for the city in the long run.
Festa noted that the Market Basket superstore would “bring numerous jobs to the city of Revere,” which he estimated at between 200 and 250 construction jobs and over 400 additional jobs.
Councillor Correggio asked whether the TIF document gives priority to Revere residents and whether the construction jobs would be union ones. Festa answered that the TIF “gives Revere residents opportunities.” He explained: “We would like to see union workers and we want to hire local residents,” which, he noted, was a goal of the Rizzo administration. City Solicitor Paul Capizzi said that the document’s language requests the developer “to do everything they can for local residents.”
A condition of the agreement—section B.1—reads that “when completed, an estimate of over 400 local residents will be employed at the project site.” The document also requires the business to submit annual reports on job creation—the number of regular part-time and full-time jobs—and new investments by December 31 of each year the tax exemption is in effect.
Sweetser provided anecdotal evidence that the development will draw on local residents and employ union workers for construction. Two of the three contractors are union, while the other uses union operators, he said. Though it looks promising, he said that he “can’t promise it will be like that one hundred percent of the time.” He also noted that a Market Basket in Bridgewater hired 97 percent of its workforce locally. “They seem to do that in practice,” he said.
Sweetser estimated that the store would possibly open in early summer 2013.
At Committee Chairman Anthony Zambuto’s request, the eleven-page TIF document was placed on the city council website Tuesday for public view. Zambuto said that the agreement will stay in committee until December 3, when the Economic Development Subcommittee will revisit the issue before passing it on to the full City Council for a vote.