City Secures Major Tenant for Riverside Landing

Market Basket to Open at Fairhaven Mills Site, Bring 500 Jobs
By Charis Anderson, New Bedford Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD — Market Basket, a Tewksbury-based supermarket chain, will open its first New Bedford store on the site of the former Fairhaven Mills next year, bringing more than 500 jobs to the region, officials announced Wednesday.
The news ended months of speculation about the identity of the anchor tenant at the Fairhaven Mills site, which is now known as Riverside Landing.
“We will put forward our best foot to make sure the city of New Bedford and the residents of New Bedford are very pleased and proud of this development,” said Arthur T. Demoulas, president and chief executive officer of Market Basket, during a press conference at City Hall.
The midday press conference was attended by a number of elected officials, along with representatives from Market Basket, and Mark Dickinson and Mark White, the project’s developers.
“The grease that makes this engine run is the major user for this property,” said Dickinson of Market Basket’s importance to the success of the overall development.
Market Basket is a family-run business that operates 59 stores throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Four additional stores are under construction; the New Bedford location will be the company’s 64th location.
“I believe it is going to affect, in a positive way, every individual in this city,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said. “Market Basket has unbelievable value, and it forces everyone else to re-examine exactly what their values are.”
Construction on the 95,000-square-foot store is likely to start within eight to 12 weeks with the goal of getting a roof on the building before the cold weather sets in, Demoulas said.
He said he is aiming to open the store in the late spring or early summer, and that once open, the store will employ 500 to 600 people, about 95 percent of whom will be hired locally.
The bulk of the jobs — 80 percent to 85 percent — will be part-time positions; pay will range from minimum wage to $50,000 and more annually for management positions, according to David McLean, operations manager for Market Basket.
The company will be responsible for the construction of the store, which will be built based on the plans that have been presented and approved with some “minor tweaks,” Demoulas said.
The company has not yet picked a contractor for the project, but it will work with the local trades as much as possible, according to Demoulas.
The project, funded with private investment, does not fall under the city’s responsible employer act.
Market Basket also will be responsible for building a mixed-use building on the east side of the site closer to the river.
A schedule for developing the building, which is likely to be about 40,000 square feet, has not been finalized, but “we’re not looking to delay it,” Demoulas said.
Ultimately, the former Fairhaven Mills site will be divided into three lots, according to Dickinson: Market Basket will control the site’s north portion that runs along Sawyer Street; Dickinson and White will retain ownership of the portion of the site that borders Coggeshall Street.
According to Dickinson, plans for the south portion are tentative, with a bank and a restaurant two of the possible development options being considered.
August 20, 2009
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