Westborough planning council gives green light to Amazon Robotics expansion

The Westborough Planning Board recently approved plans for a new facility at 54 Otis Street, next to the existing Amazon Robotics site at 50 Otis Street. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

WESTBOROUGH — A project to construct a new 100,000 square foot building next to the existing Westborough Amazon Robotics facility is progressing after winning unanimous approval from the Planning Board on Tuesday.

The plans were submitted by Atlantic Management Corporation and its entity Atlantic-Westborough Realty LLC. They are requesting a structure at 54 Otis Street, which will represent an extension of Amazon’s existing site at 50 Otis Street.

“The planning board finds and determines…that the project constitutes an appropriate development and will not cause substantial harm to the neighborhood,” planner Jim Robbins read on May 3.

What is offered

Atlantic team first present plans to the Planning Council on April 5.

As attorney Robert Buckley described it, they were proposing to build an additional, complementary research and development facility that would tie into the work being done at Amazon Robotics.

“We’ve had this in the planning for some time,” Buckley said.

Atlantic-Westboro Realty LLC purchased the site in September 2020. According to the developer applicationthe project will sit on a site that will eventually span just under 11 acres.

The site is currently occupied by a house and a garage, which will be demolished according to demand.

Amazon previously used the property as a temporary parking lot when building its robotics facility, engineer William Park said.

Plans show a building with an 81,900 square foot footprint and a second level of 20,000 square feet. There will be 186 parking spaces.

Park said there are also plans to install infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations.

There will be a driveway at the site, though Park noted there will also be a shared driveway with Amazon Robotics.

Truck traffic is expected to cross this shared driveway between the two sites, Park said.

“It’s a much friendlier turning motion to the proposed loading dock,” he continued.

Robert Michaud, managing director of MDM Transportation Consultants, separately presented the results of a transportation impact study on April 5.

According to his presentation, the promoters plan 766 daily trips, including 113 weekday morning rush hour trips and 104 weekday evening rush hour trips.

It is estimated that the building will have around 230 employees.

Regal Cinema’s security issues discussed

Snow sat against the front door of the former Regal Cinema location in Westborough in January this year. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

During their deliberations this week, Planning Council member Hazel Nourse questioned whether the Council’s decision should require the building owner to provide security beyond simply locking doors when the proposed building is vacant.

“I’m just throwing that out as a question because it’s a big building,” she said. “It’s close to a public street.”

She asked if council had ever required an applicant to have the building checked occasionally by a security company.

“You think cinema,” Robbins said, referring to the former Regal Cinema property in Westborough.

“Absolutely,” Nourse said.

The Regal site is now owned by the city after the theater abruptly closed over four years ago.

The closure initiated a search for the owners of the property and ultimately resulted in the property being awarded to the city through a tax lien seizure process.

At the March town meeting, Police Chief Jeffrey Lourie said officers were at the movies every day and every shift, dealing with issues ranging from vandalism to a sex offender discovered in the building with a ” young child”.

“Obviously it’s an unusual circumstance because they didn’t know who the owner was,” Robbins said Tuesday. “In this case, there will always be an owner in the building. We know who owns it. It’s a master key.

Buckley added that there will be electronic security and motion detection.

Nourse suggested Buckley could return to the Planning Council to discuss new security measures if the buildings become vacant.

Amazon is growing

The property at 4400 Computer Drive contains, among other things, a helipad.  A project to build a massive e-commerce distribution center here was recently approved.  Photo/Laura Hayes
The Westborough Planning Board approved plans for an e-commerce distribution center at 4400 Computer Drive last summer. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

It is the latest of several moved by Amazon to expand its presence in Westborough.

The company was already in town at a smaller location on Technology Drive in 2019 when it announced its expansion into its current robotics facility on Otis Street.

Amazon then acquired a massive package on Computer Drive late last year, which it plans to develop as a last-mile fulfillment center.


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About Charles D. Goolsby

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