New England Natural Bakers not sure if it will stay in Greenfield

New England Natural Bakers' current building on Fairview Street in Greenfield. 
(Recorder/Paul Franz)

New England Natural Bakers' current building on Fairview Street in Greenfield. (Recorder/Paul Franz) Purchase photo reprints »

GREENFIELD — New England Natural Bakers wants to be in a new 60,000-square-foot factory by next summer — in whatever town offers it the best deal in the least amount of time.

The 12-year-old granola company is trying to fast-track the development to keep up with aggressive growth it’s experiencing right now, President and General Manager John Broucek said Friday.

The company is currently considering property around the corner from its current Fairview Street location, at the former Bendix-Repal property on the Laurel Street extension, but is also considering several acres on the former Oxford Foods pickle factory property in South Deerfield.

He said the baking company has been negotiating with the Greenfield for several months and just recently went before the Deerfield Board of Selectmen.

Broucek said Greenfield has offered seven to nine acres for between $250,000 and $300,000. He said the bakers will have to submit a proposal to selectmen in Deerfield to see if the town is interested and how much it will ask for the former Oxford property.

“This all has to be done before Oct. 15,” he said. “We’d like to close on a property by then.”

He said the biggest concern about the Greenfield property is whether there is any contamination left on the old tool factory site and whether the town would be willing to guarantee the company would not be liable if contamination were found in the future.

Broucek said the biggest concern about the South Deerfield property is how much money the town will want for about 10 acres. The town paid $1.5 million for the 16-acre property some six years ago.

He said if the company is able to close with one of the towns by mid-October, it will also have to deal with having utilities and gas lines installed, with getting the necessary permits and approvals, and with coming up with a plan for its building.

“We’re waiting on the design until we know where we’re going,” he said.

“We’ve got a few hurdles ahead of us,” said Broucek. “We’d love to stay in Greenfield, but we have to look at everything before we decide.”

Greenfield Economic Development Director Robert Pyers said the town would love for the company to stay in Greenfield and will do what it can to make sure it does.

“We’re going to have to satisfy its environmental questions, which I’m sure we can do,” said Pyers. “We’re also ready to commit $1 million to getting the site ready — we just have to wait to get it from the state.”

He said he is not sure when that will happen, but town officials are currently working on getting the promised money, which Pyers said would be used to build a road into the site, extend the water line currently there and demolish a building on the site.

Pyers said he believes that closing on Oct. 15 is doable and that with some aggressive construction, the baking company could be on the site by next July.

The baking company makes organic and conventional granola and muesli and has been on Fairview Street for more than a decade.

Town Council is currently considering giving the company a property tax break to ease the burden of construction costs, another incentive to keep it in Greenfield. Deerfield has not begun any discussions about tax breaks at this time, said Broucek, who started the company in 1977.

New England Natural Bakers currently works out of two different locations, with its 28,000-square-foot factory on Fairview Street and a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in the industrial park in Turners Falls.

Broucek said the company had been looking at a property in Turners Falls for its expansion as well, but it wasn’t big enough.

In 2013, Deerfield tried to sell the property, but received no bids. I ts new highway garage, which was finished earlier this year, was built on four acres of the site, leaving 12 open for development.

Broucek said he’s not sure if the company would have to buy all 12 acres on the South Deerfield site or could buy just eight or nine acres, which he said is all it needs.

Broucek said New England Natural Bakers hopes to hear from both towns within the next two or three weeks so it can schedule a closing.

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