Developer says 90 jobs coming to former Hallmark warehouse
By Will Healey
Journal Inquirer | Posted: Friday, August 12, 2016 12:23 pm
ENFIELD — The new owner of the former Hallmark Cards distribution center at 25 Bacon Road says it has plans for two as-yet-unidentified companies — at least one of which is on the Fortune 500 list — to occupy a big warehouse on the property, creating about 90 jobs.
The Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday approved an application by the owner, Winstanley Enterprises LLC, to make $6.8 million in renovations to the building.
The 325-acre site — developed by Hallmark in 1981 to expand its Enfield operation — was purchased by Winstanley, a development firm, in June, nearly a year after Hallmark announced plans to close its Enfield operations. Hallmark had closed its facility on Manning Road in 2007.
Adam Winstanley, who is a principal of the development firm along with his father and brother, said the firm bought the property because the family viewed it as “an incredible asset.” He said his firm has developed more than 40 projects in Connecticut since 1994, including Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ new $200 million world headquarters in New Haven and ESPN’s north campus in Bristol.
Winstanley said he has two tenants — one under contract and one in negotiations — ready to use the “low-bay” distribution building, one of two warehouses on the property. He said the building would be partitioned, with the “anchor company” moving into a 467,100-square-foot space, and the other company moving into a 255,953-square-foot space.
Winstanley said he couldn’t yet publicly identify the companies due to a confidentiality agreement signed with the anchor company — and due to the sensitivity of the move for the companies, which are both from out-of-state.
He said both companies will meet with Town Manager Bryan Chodkowski in the coming weeks.
“We will come forward with more information as soon as we can,” Winstanley said. “I wish we could give more information.”
Winstanley said the anchor company is a Fortune 500 company and the other company is a “large out-of-state company.” According to the site plan application submitted to the town, both are Fortune 500 companies and the total employment at the site is expected to be around 90 full-time employees.
The site plan application, which the commission approved 6-0, covers only the first of three planned renovation phases.
Under “Phase I,” Winstanley would make several modifications to the “low-bay” building. They include building a dividing wall to accommodate the two tenants; installing an “early suppression fast response” sprinkler system; replacing the lighting inside and around the facility with energy efficient LED lights; and crack-filling and seal coating the parking lots.
Under “Phase II,” $12 million to $15 million in renovations would be made to the “high-bay” building on the property, including installing a new roof and lowering the 80-foot height of the building, removing racks and installing columns inside the building, and removing existing loading docks.
The third phase of the project would include the development of a new one-story warehouse-distribution building on the northern part of the site, totaling nearly 800,000 square feet, as well as building new parking areas, loading docks, trailer parking, and a fueling station, according to the site plan application.
“We’re excited to be here in Enfield,” Winstanley said. “We recognize the disappointment of a large company like Hallmark leaving the community, but I’m very confident we’ll make this campus a productive and valuable part of this community going forward.”
Commission members said they were impressed with Winstanley’s plan.
“We’re very pleased you guys came along,” commission member Peter Falk said. “We were devastated with Hallmark leaving.”
Three residents from a Cottage Road housing development that abuts the property met after the PZC meeting with Winstanley and his delegation, which included a project advisor and a civil engineer. The residents expressed concern over the plan’s impact on their quality of life.
Winstanley explained to the residents that the Phase I construction was mostly inside. He said there is “zero chance they’d hear any noise.”
Afterward, residents Anne and Wayne Buck said Winstanley was very cordial with them and addressed their concerns. They said he even talked about potentially donating a strip of land that buffers the Cottage Road development and the Bacon Road site for conservation.