EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 23, 2013

Restaurant Depot proposed for Andover

Would fill empty building in new zoning district

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@eagletribune.com

---- — ANDOVER — A Restaurant Depot off Dascomb Road would be the first redevelopment proposal in a new zoning district approved at last spring’s Town Meeting.

But it’s unclear if the business meets the requirements of the new industrial district.

New York based Restaurant Depot, which sells supplies to small- and medium-sized independent restaurants, wants to buy the old Brockway-Smith warehouse at 146 Dascomb Road for a reported $11 million.

The company would then convert 86,600 square feet of the 247,130-square-foot building into a new Restaurant Depot, according to plans filed with the Planning Board. The company is similar to a CostCo or Sam’s Club, but for restaurant owners instead of individuals.

The Planning Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal Oct. 8.

Town Planner Jacki Byerley said the company is hoping to put in a new driveway to access the back of the building, which is where the Restaurant Depot would be located. She said that while delivery trucks would access the site, the main source of traffic would be small vehicles such as minivans driven by business owners.

“It’s mainly geared toward small restaurants,” she said, meaning the owners of those businesses will be mostly arriving in their personal or company vehicles to pick up the supplies they need.

It is focused on restaurants like Brasserie 28, Andolini’s and Palmers, she said. Chain restaurants such as 99 would not ordinarily use the facility because they have their own supply chains, she said.

The use is permitted under the new ID2 rezoning because it is considered a grocery store, even though it is more of a wholesale grocery use, Byerley said.

“It’s because of the sale of food,” she said. “It’s allowable under the new business zoning.”

The rezoning was approved for two areas of town — a triangular piece of property south of Dascomb Road bordering Interstate 93 and a larger tract of land north of River Road, bordering the Merrimack River.

According to the zoning bylaw, which was approved by Town Meeting in May, “Residents and workers in the West Andover and the Dascomb Road area have limited access to obtain the services that homeowners, business people and employees readily enjoy in other parts of Andover.” The rezoning was aimed at bringing in “conveniences and services ... to underserved residents, business community, and commuters” in that part of town.

The term “grocery store’’ was defined in the zoning ordinance as “an establishment where more than 70 percent of the gross-floor area is devoted to the sale of food products for home preparation and consumption.”

A legal ad that ran in last week’s Andover Townsman said the company is seeking a special permit “for ID2 Zoning District Uses under the Andover Zoning Bylaw and a Special Permit for a change in parking space requirements.”

Tim Vaill, executive director of the town’s Economic Development Council, said it is unclear why Restaurant Depot was coming in under the new ID2 zoning.

“This is not really an amenity,” he said. “It’s a supply company, not a place for retail.

“These guys could have come in with or without the new zoning,’’ he said. “This doesn’t test the new zoning.”

Nonetheless, Vaill supports the proposal, saying it would make use of what is now a vacant, industrial building.

“This is a very attractive tenant for the town,” he said.

No one from Restaurant Depot could be reached for comment. The real estate company conducting the sale of the 23-acre property, CBRE/New England, was also unavailable. Charles Smith of Brockway Smith could not be reached.

Restaurant Depot has similar warehouse operations in Everett and Needham.