Renzi expansion clears first hurtle

Renzi Foodservice, 901 Rail Drive, Watertown. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — An expansion at the Renzi Foodservice facility in the City Center Industrial Park cleared the first hurdle with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday.

The county IDA accepted the company’s application for a tax abatement package for the $4.7 million project. A public hearing on the package will be scheduled.

The company will soon embark on the first phase of its expansion, a 20,000-square-foot building addition. The project includes expanded docking, refrigerated storage and warehouse space, more parking, a new entrance from South Bellew Drive and improved landscaping. The expansion is expected to create 30 jobs.

The company also will add 19 acres to its existing 21-acre site in a deal that involves the Watertown Local Development Corporation, which manages the industrial park, and the city, which owns the land.

The expansion would not be happening if it weren’t for a land swap earlier this year that relocated a rail spur in the industrial park.

“It’s not a usual deal,” Mr. Miller said.

Eventually, the expansion will grow to 37,000 square feet when the company proceeds with future phases.

The company wants to start construction on the 51-space parking lot this fall. But that depends on getting approval for a wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Recently, Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith expressed concern that the wetlands permit could delay the start of the project until next spring. The permit is needed because a small stream was created by the relocation of the rail spur.

The Watertown Trust and the county IDA relocated the industrial park’s rail spur this year to help Renzi move forward with its expansion. Renzi needed the rail spur moved because its property was landlocked and the company was unable to proceed.

The permit is required because the Army Corps is going back to an Obama-era federal wetland requirement, said Jay M. Matteson, agricultural coordinator for the county’s Local Development Corporation.

“We have to have those things in place or you could get into trouble,” he said.

The company’s facility now consists of nearly 70,000 square feet of cold storage and 42,153 square feet of warehouse space. The new warehouse space will be added to the northeast side of the facility.

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