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Unnamed company readying for West Main Street warehouse project

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An unidentified company tentatively has agreed to build a manufacturing facility on the site of a century-old warehouse off West Main Street.

Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corp., said the company has indicated it wants to demolish the nearly 39,000-square-foot distribution center at 570 W. Main St. that once housed Cleaves Enterprises and rebuild on the site.

Saying it’s in the “planning of the predevelopment stage,” Mr. Rutherford gave an update on the project at a WLDC meeting Thursday morning.

The WLDC board approved spending $10,000 to hire an appraiser to determine the value of the property and to complete an environmental study.

“This is a starting point,” Mr. Rutherford said.

The company initially would hire 25 workers and would add that many later, Mr. Rutherford said. Construction would begin next spring and take about a year to complete.

The WLDC, also known as the Watertown Trust, plans to acquire the property for $465,000 and lease to the company the area where the building sits. The new facility would be a “little larger than the footprint of the existing structure,” he said, adding that the company plans to use its foundation in the construction.

The trust plans to market the remaining 15.5 acres of mostly undeveloped property for other commercial ventures and possibly turn it into a second city industrial park, especially since the City Center Industrial Park on Bellew Avenue has only four or five vacant parcels remaining.

The site also includes a railroad spur, one of the few available in the north country, Mr. Rutherford said.

“It gives us more commercial space and an added railroad side,” he said.

Board member Erika F. Flint recommended the trust obtain assurances from the company that it would recoup any money spent by the organization for engineering and other expenses if the firm decides to back out of the venture for any reason.

Board members also want to make sure the current owner of the property, Edmund Street Realty LLC, Cumberland Foreside, Maine, does not sell it before the trust can close a deal with the company.

Mr. Rutherford has been working for several months to get the company to move into the former distribution center. The Trust had some competition, with another county vying for the project, but that deal appears to be dead.

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