Renzi expanding food business in Watertown industrial park

·3 min read

Jul. 24—WATERTOWN — Renzi Food Service is about to embark on a major expansion at its facility in the City Center Industrial Park on South Bellew Avenue.

Construction of 38,176-square-feet in additional warehouse space is slated to start this fall. As part of a 5-year plan, the project has been in the works for a few years.

The company's facility now consists of nearly 70,000 square feet of cold storage and 42,153 square feet of warehouse space.

The project also consists of 24 additional parking spaces for tractor trailers, a 51-space parking lot for cars and an additional access drive onto South Bellew Avenue.

The company submitted a site plan application to the city's Planning Board on Tuesday, with the Planning Board to take up the project on Aug. 3.

According to the paperwork submitted to the city, the company wrote that the project is "continued construction of phased-in building" that began in 2005.

While the project has been talked about in recent years, Michael A. Lumbis, the city's planning and community development director, acknowledged "it was a bit of a surprise" when the site plans came in to his department earlier this week.

Earlier this year, the Watertown Local Development Corporation and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency worked on getting the industrial park's rail spur relocated to help Renzi move forward with its expansion.

David J. Zembiec, chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development, knew that Renzi was ready to proceed with the project. He expects that the company will request financial help from the JCIDA with the project.

The company's growth will lead to more jobs, he said.

"Anytime you get a local company to grow is good news," Mr. Zembiec said.

The new warehouse addition would be built on the north east side of the current facility. The Planning Department just began reviewing the plans and will have them completed by Wednesday.

Renzi's expansion plans have been stalled because its food distribution center was landlocked before the completion of a rail spur project in the business park.

The JCIDA also recently submitted an application for federal funding to create a second entrance into the industrial park that would help ease truck traffic into and out of the company's site.

The second entrance would be created by constructing a road to Coleman Avenue, near the Raymour & Flanigan plaza on Arsenal Street.

The $4.5 million federal funding would come from an earmark — the first time in years that Congress is using those types of appropriations in annual discretionary spending — from U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, both D-N.Y.

The funding also would go for other major improvements on the rail spur.

The company also hopes to add further expansion of 14,600 square feet and 61,226 square feet in the future.

Under the company's site plans, the company intends to construct a large enough storm management facility that would be capable of handling all of the phased-in expansion, said city planner Michael DeMarco, who's handling the site plan application for the city.

News of the Renzi expansion comes at a time when Roth Industries is undergoing a major project of its own in the industrial park. Located across the street, Roth Industries is in the midst of a $5.5 million major expansion that will lead to a one-third increase in production at its manufacturing plant.

That rail spur project completed this spring in the industrial park also will allow for easier access for shipments of plastic resin into the Roth's manufacturing plant.

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