By Nick Kotsopoulos
Telegram & Gazette Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2016 at 8:02 PM
Updated Sep 2, 2016 at 8:46 AM
WORCESTER – Table Talk Pies wants to expand its operations to a 50,000-square-foot industrial building to be constructed in the South Worcester Industrial Park.
With a workforce of 300 people at its Worcester headquarters at Kelley Square and at a recently added location in Shrewsbury, Table Talk intends to have two permanent shifts working at the new facility, with a capacity for a third shift, according to city officials.
City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., in his report to the City Council, said the company initially plans to hire 50 additional, permanent, full-time employees at the SWIP location, which he said is needed to meet its growing operational needs.
By the end of 2019, Table Talk hopes to have as many as 80 full-time employees there, consisting of 70 hourly positions and 10 salaried positions.
“The proposed project will put two vacant, non-tax-generating, city-owned parcels back to productive reuse, retain and expand Table Talk Pies’ operations in Worcester, retain 30 full-time jobs that will be relocating from Table Talk’s Washington Street facility to SWIP, creating a minimum of 50 full-time jobs, and generate new tax revenue for the city,” Mr. Augustus’ report said.
Citing Michael E. Traynor, the city’s chief development officer, the report says Chacharone Properties LLC, a local property owner and developer, is acquiring two city-owned parcels in the industrial park – 17 Southgate Place and 25 Southgate St. – where it plans to construct the new building for Table Talk.
The building is to include six docks, eight overhead doors, 24-foot high ceilings, 5,000 square feet of office space, 45,000 square feet of manufacturing/warehouse space and parking for about 75 cars and seven tractor-trailers, according to Mr. Traynor, who estimated the project’s total cost at $4.6 million.
He said Table Talk needs to have the building completed and operational by July 1.
Mr. Augustus said the project is expected to be completed within nine months of receiving a building permit.
To help finance the project, Chacharone is seeking a 20-year tax-increment financing plan from the city that would give the company an average tax exemption of 80 percent over the course of the deal.
The exemption proposed in the so-called TIF would be applied to the added value that would result from the new construction.
The total assessed value of the properties at 17 Southgate Place and 25 Southgate St. is currently $210,800, according to Mr. Traynor, and the developer will pay full taxes on that.
He said the proposed new building is expected to increase the total assessed value to $3.4 million, and the 80 percent exemption will be applied to the increase.
Over the 20-year life of the TIF, it is projected to generate tax savings for Chacharone of roughly $2.2 million.
Meanwhile, the city would receive an estimated total of $750,000 in tax revenue from the project during the term of the TIF.
Because the city now owns the parcels, it receives no tax revenue from them.
“This TIF plan has incentivized the sale of two vacant, city-owned parcels currently generating no tax revenue,” Mr. Traynor said. “Upon completion of the TIF plan, the city will realize an estimated $200,000 in tax revenue annually.”
District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera, who has played an instrumental role in recent years in getting the long-stalled SWIP redevelopment project jump-started, said Table Talk’s expansion to the industrial park is a major boost for that part of the city.
She credited the city administration, the City Council and neighborhood stakeholders for not giving up when SWIP had difficulty generating any interest at all for many years.
“It’s exciting to have this expansion take place in the SWIP,” said Ms. Rivera, whose district includes the industrial park. “The (city) administration has been great and got this project back on track by putting it in the forefront. There are a lot of really good things happening there now and none of it would have been possible without all the people who stuck with it.
“These people never gave up and they put in a lot of hard work to make this all possible,” she added. “They showed that this can get done, and it is getting done. They are amazing. How can you not fight for a project like this?”
Table Talk is a family business established in 1924 by two Greek immigrants, Theodore Tonna and Angelo Cotsidas. Christo Cocaine followed them by running the business for many years, and it is now being run by the third generation.
Mr. Traynor said Table Talk is committed to ensuring that at least 50 percent of the new jobs created at the SWIP facility will be filled by Worcester residents.