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Revere weighs tax break to draw Market Basket

Workers built a foundation near Northgate Shopping Center in Revere that could become a Market Basket store.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Workers are building a foundation near Northgate Shopping Center in Revere that could become a Market Basket store.

Revere is poised to join other cities and towns in the region that have recently offered tax breaks to encourage businesses that are either expanding or relocating in their communities.

City officials recently negotiated an approximately $1 million tax increment financing agreement with Squire Charger Realty, LLC, which is seeking to bring a Market Basket to a site adjacent to Northgate Shopping Center at the corner of Squire Road (Route 60) and Charger Street.  

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Under the development plan, Market Basket would construct an 83,000-square-foot store on part of the approximately 10-acre parcel, which also includes a Planet Fitness that opened this past spring.

The deal would exempt Squire Charger Realty from taxes on a portion of the increased value of the property resulting from its investment. The exemption would gradually decline and be eliminated at the end of 10 years. The developer’s average savings would be $100,000 per year over the life of the agreement.

The City Council’s Economic Development and Planning Committee is set to continue the discussion on Monday. Councilor Anthony T. Zambuto, the committee chairman, expects his panel will refer the proposal to the full council for a vote at its meeting that evening.

Zambuto said that while there might be some revisions, he expects the tax break will win approval from the council.

“We are looking forward to having Market Basket at that location. We expect it’s going to revitalize that whole mall,” Zambuto said. “We certainly are looking for economic development and I’m not averse to [tax breaks] when they are appropriate, and this appears to be reasonable.”

If approved by the council, the agreement would still require the approval of the state’s Economic Assistance Coordinating Council.  

David C. Sweetser, manager of Newton-based Squire Charger Realty, said he has no formal lease agreement with Market Basket, but that the supermarket chain is very interested in locating at the site. He said contractors hired by Market Basket already have begun constructing the foundation for a possible store.

“I’m excited about them coming to Revere. I think Revere is excited about having Market Basket, and I think Market Basket shares the enthusiasm about the opportunity,” Sweetser said.

If Market Basket does come, Squire Charger Realty would pass on the savings from the tax deal to the supermarket chain through a process still to be determined.

Market Basket operates 68 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to its website. Included is a 138,000-square-foot store that opened in 2009 at the former Mystic Mall in Chelsea.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Workers have begun construction at the site of a proposed Market Basket near Northgate Shopping Center in Revere.

“I know on a personal level so many of our residents like Market Basket. They shop at the Market Basket now in Chelsea. I know they are thrilled at the prospect of having Market Basket located in our city,” said Mayor Daniel Rizzo.

“They are a great catalyst,” he said. “We feel as though having a Market Basket here is going to draw a lot of people to the site and make the site more attractive for further redevelopment.”

Market Basket has estimated that the store would provide about 400 permanent jobs, according to city officials, who said the tax agreement includes language urging that Revere residents be given preference in hiring. The construction project would create 200 to 250 temporary jobs.

Rizzo also noted that even taking into account the tax break, the city will receive $2.4 million in added tax revenue during the life of the agreement.

Perhaps most important, he said, the project is “a service to our residents, to give them . . . hopefully a chance to save money on their annual grocery bill by having this choice and competition in the city.”

While many small markets operate in Revere, there’s also a Stop & Shop on Squire Road. But a Foodmaster, also located on Squire Road, closed in 2010, and Shaw’s, on Revere Beach Parkway, was shuttered last year as the economy continued to falter.

Among other communities, Everett this year approved a tax break for L. Knife & Sons to help the beer distributor purchase and renovate a vacant building on Beacham Street to serve as a distribution facility. The city also provided a tax break to Cumar Marble and Granite for the firm’s plan to expand to and renovate an adjacent building on Norman Street.

Methuen recently provided an incentive to Century Box, a carton manufacturer that plans to double the size of its plant near the Lawrence line. Beverly, Billerica, Chelmsford, Lawrence, Lowell, and Tewksbury were among other communities offering tax breaks last year.

Revere granted one previous tax break, in 2003 to the New England Confectionery Co. (NECCO) for an upgrade to the American Legion Highway Building the candymaker undertook as part of its move to the site, according to Frank Stringi, the city’s planning director.

Rizzo said the jobs and other benefits make the proposed tax break to bring Market Basket to Revere worthwhile.

“I don’t see any downside to this,” he said.

John Festa, the city’s economic development director, said the tax agreement helps the city send a message that Revere is trying to be aggressive in seeking new business development. “We want to make people realize that we are open for business,” he said.

Festa said the agreement may be amended at the request of some city councilors to include language expressing the city’s desire to see union labor used in the project. Sweetser said all of the workers on site to date are unionized.

In the spring of 2011, Squire Charger Realty purchased the 10-acre site, which at the time was occupied by a vacant 100,000-square-foot retail building that had most recently been occupied by a National Wholesale Liquidators store.

The Planning Board then approved a site plan proposed by Squire that called for razing the existing retail building and replacing it with two new ones.

That summer, Squire demolished the old building and began site work that included relocating sewer and water lines, new landscaping, and replacing the existing parking lot. With the completion of that work, it constructed the 19,000-square-foot building that houses Planet Fitness.

If the Market Basket project goes forward, Sweetser said the supermarket would likely be ready to open early next summer.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.
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