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Keurig is Brewing A Move Out of Reading

Keurig met with Burlington officials to discuss moving offices to that community.

Coffee giant is looking to close its Reading headquarters on Walkers Brook Drive and may move its operations to Burlington.

Company officials appeared before the Burlington Board of Selectmen on Monday. Chris Stevens, vice president of corporate relations, and Lynn Tokarczyk, president of Business Development Strategies, Inc., discussed the possibilities of moving the Keurig headquarters to Burlington. The idea was met with enthusiasm by members of the board and Burlington Town Administrator Robert Mercier.

Stevens said Keurig, which is owned by Green Mountain Coffee, is looking for a larger location to consolidate its headquarters. Currently, Keurig has a base of operations in Reading and offices in other New England states.

Tokarczyk confirmed after the meeting that the company is looking to close office locations, including the Reading office, and move to a new location, though the final destination is under consideration.

"This is a relocation and consolidation into one facility. They haven't made a decision on which location, in Massachusetts or outside of the state yet," she said. "This is just preliminary. Burlington has two locations in consideration and there are others under consideration as well."

Stevens said that the company is interested in Burlington because of its easy access from the highway, business-friendly atmosphere and amenities for employees.

Keurig also plans to hire 400 new employees. Tokarczyk said jobs will be advertised to qualified Burlington residents first if the company were to go to town.

"The hiring plan is to open jobs to qualified Burlington residents first," she said. "Keurig will advertise locally and at job fairs and various events. What they're saying is they expect to create 400 jobs and look to hire qualified residents of Burlington first and then the region."

Members of the Burlington Board of Selectmen were enthusiastic about the possibility of Keurig going to Burlington.

"We think Keurig coming to Burlington would be great for the community," Selectman Robert Hogan said. "Even if residents get one-fourth of the new jobs, that is still 100 new jobs."

AnonLikeU March 14, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Karen, maybe this is a question for the Assessors, but is it possible to create multi- tiered tax rates that would allow for residents and small business/property owners to have one rate, and larger commercial properties to have another? Do we have zoning constraints or classifications that make this impossible?
Jim Pothier March 14, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Sheesh! Was it my blog entry that drove them out of town?
Karl Weld March 14, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I don't think commercial tax rates have anything to do with this move. Property owners pay property taxes. Keurig leases its space in Reading (they didn't build their own building), and is probably going to do so in Burlington if they move there. Perhaps the owner(s) of the space Keurig is looking at offers competitive lease rates or is discounting them to fill their space. And since they're consolidating locations they're probably saving money even paying higher rent in Burlington (if indeed they are) due to higher commercial tax rates. Perhaps the EDC will get some answers at a future meeting. The simple fact is that there is not a space large enough in Reading that can house the consolidated operations of a company like Keurig. My guess is that's why they're thinking of leaving. And that's not good for the Town.
Fred Van Magness Sr. March 15, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Bet the final move is somewhere north of the MA border. Tax friendly NH would be the first place to come to mind. Vt and the tie in to Green Mountain Coffee would be the next thought. If they are to stay in MA, Deval better get out the checkbook like Evergreen Solar. Remaining Walker's Brook Drive businesses will take an adverse hit if this exit happens. What is Reading doing to see if they can keep Keurig HERE ???? Has anyone met with their leadership? Maybe our BOS and Town Manager as a group needs to request a meeting en masse to meet with Keurig officials to see if there are any option to stay. Time is of the essence.
Karen Gately Herrick March 15, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Donna, The town does have the option to split the tax rate and provide a exemption for small businesses that have less than 10 full time employees. In Reading, most truly small businesses do not own their own buildings and their taxes are wrapped up into the sq. ft. monthly lease costs. Larger orgs. like Keurig negotiate triple net leases and are directly subject to tax rate fluctuations. Taxes are a deductible expense and do not drive business location decisions as the Keurig decision shows. I have yet to meet a triple net leasee in Reading who has said, "a split rate rate would drive me out of business and out of town - large businesses like Stop and Shop and Staples know the bargain they are getting. Unfortunately, this is a truly misunderstood topic that has cost the residents of Reading thousands of dollars in business subsidies on an individual basis.
Lauren March 15, 2012 at 01:31 AM
I interviewed at Keurig recently and was told up front that they were looking for a larger space in the general area. They want to find someplace they have the chance to grow into- up to 1500 employees - more of a campus location rather than an office here and another in Wakefield etc. I don't think there is any place that would fit that bill here in Reading or that the BOS or anyone or anything else could do to keep them here.
John Carpenter March 15, 2012 at 11:22 AM
I'd like to know what specific actions Reading's Economic Development Commission has done, to encourage Kuerig to keep its headquarters in Reading. If anyone knows about meetings, offers, etc., please describe.
Dave Miskinis March 15, 2012 at 01:34 PM
The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!! What, is the owner going to burn the building down after Keurig moves? Did I miss that story? Doesn't the building owner continue to pay property taxes? People, the economy is starting to pick up. Another tenant will fill the space. Companies grow and they need more space. It's as simple as that. Burlington has more hotels for business travelers, more restaurants for business meals. Do you really believe that the Reading Economic Development Commission can do anything to influence a publicly-owned company like this?
Joe Veno March 15, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I think Reading should look real hard at the second reason listed in the following statement "Business-friendly atmosphere" Stevens said that the company is interested in Burlington because of its easy access from the highway, business-friendly atmosphere and amenities for employees. I know several people who own businesses in Reading and they say Reading is the toughest town around to do business in. Just a thought.
Barry Berman March 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Did anyone see the comment that kuerig is looking for a tax concession from the town of Burlington? It is too bad that the timing was off. A campus setting on the AW site would be far more preferable than the 400 housing units being built there now. Oh well.
Karl Weld March 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Barry, where did you hear about that comment? I've done a search and haven't been able to find it.
Karl Weld March 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Found it on burlington.patch.com "During the presentation Tokarczyk also spoke about tax incentive programs from the state and a possible deal with the Town of Burlington. The issue was discussed in brief and will be the focus of further conversations with town leaders."
peter lucci March 17, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Shame on the Town of Burlington. You would have thought that they would have learned their lesson years ago after the Sun Microsystems disaster.
Joe Veno March 18, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Karen are you saying that a business dose not take into account if a town has a split tax rate?
Joe Veno March 18, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Donna, There is a way to do what you asked (Split Tax Rate) but it is not as simple as Karen makes it sound. There are several guidelines that small businesses have to meet to get the lower rate. Just having 10 or less employees dose not qualify them automaticly.
Nikki March 18, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Joe, sorry this is off topic, but if anyone knows the answer to this, you will. How come the hardware store across from the Horseshoe closed? I am sad to see it go.
Joe Veno March 18, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Nikki, They could not compete with the big box stores. Home Depot, Lowes etc. I am sad to see them go I used them a lot for evrey day hardware stuff..
Karen Gately Herrick March 18, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Actually Joe - determining whether a small business qualifies for an exemption is not complicated at all and no - the commercial property tax rate not a driving factor for a business making a location decision. If that were true then Saugus and Burlington would be commercial ghost towns. After checking my notes - I will mention that the other major factor in being able to qualify as a small business for the purpose of a tax rate exemption is that the property in question must also have a valuation of less than $1million. What other guidelines were you thinking of? Please share.
Joe Veno March 18, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Karen, I respectfully disagree with you. Several years ago when Teradyne was going to build on Concord St. they had the option to put the building in North Reading or Wilmington. North Reading has a 50/50 tax rate Wilmington has a 60/40 tax rate. North Reading got the building and Wilmington go the parking lot. they. said the deciding factor was the tax rate. They are now our highest tax payer in the town. It does have a big effect on businesses in my opinion.
Karl Weld March 18, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Karen, other than the lease rate how do property taxes come into play for a tenant? Keurig is consolodating multiple locations and looking to hire an additional 400 people. Even by paying a higher lease rate (since they're not the building owner they don't pay the porperty taxes) driven by a higher property tax rate in Burlington they are probably going to save money by going to one lease instead of multiple ones. The issue for Reading is that we don't have a big enough space for a company like Keurig to grow in. It seems a little risking to be an incubator site and then see major employers depart when they run out of space. One or two anchor buildings that can serve a growing company like Keurig seems to be a missing part of our economic mix. Thoughts?
Nikki March 18, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Thanks, Joe. I miss them a lot already. Have tried across from Kitty's, but they are more expensive.
Karen Gately Herrick March 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Bottom line once again: Keurig is moving to a new facility that better suits its business needs and the FACT that new municipality has one of the highest commercial tax rates in the Commonwealth did not deter them.
M March 19, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Burlington, like Woburn, seems to be an "industrial" type of town, with not only lots of "amenities" for workers (hotels, restaurants, stores, conference spaces, etc) and for manufacturers but all of the unpleasantness that does with that --lots of traffic, truck traffic, ugly industrial buildings, industrial smoke & smells, etc. Is that the direction we would want Reading to go, really? We don't really have the industrial areas for expansion that Burlington & Woburn do -- basically the Walkers Brook area and (formerly) the A-W site. Burlington has about same population as Reading and is only 2 sq miles bigger, but it is 20% commercial, 49% residential, 17% open, 14% public/town, vs Reading (which recent split tax opposers argues is 7% commercial, 93% residential). We simply don't have the space to support this kind of "campus" anymore. What we seem to have is a lot of small empty storefronts downtown, some empty, small, burned out buildings along 28, and whatever can expand around Market Basket/Stop & Shop area. We have existing houses everywhere &, understandably, no one wants to suddenly designate an industrial area in the middle of or adjacent to a quiet neighborhood...or tear down homes for that purpose.
Joe Veno March 19, 2012 at 12:40 AM
M, (who ever you are) Well said.
TedB March 19, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I wouldn't charecterize Burlington as industrialized. It is all white collar software companies and restaurants. Hardly the industrial smoke and smells you describe above. Not only that, but all of the commercial buildings are on one side of town, far away from the residential portion. We should have pushed for commercial buildings along 128 as opposed to the condos/apts they are building now.
Joe Veno March 19, 2012 at 01:23 AM
TedB, Check out Rt. 3A in Burlington. commercial and residental mixed all the way up Rt.. 3A.
TedB March 19, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Joe....rt. 3a is very similar to rt 28. There are small stores and sub/pizza shops. There are no large commercial buildings until you get right to 128.
Joe Veno March 19, 2012 at 01:52 AM
TedB, I agree they are much like Reading. But they also have large commercial buildings that are not on Rt.128 or Rt. 3a and are mixed in with residential.
M March 19, 2012 at 01:56 AM
TedB - maybe Woburn is more the smells, but even Wikipedia calls Burlington an "industrial town". I there is light industrial mfg there (e.g., Conformis (med devices); scanning devices (photoelectric controls & sensors); Raytheon, etc). There are plenty of software companies, too (e.g., Nuance), but, still, where in Reading could even a modest new building to house a SW company with, say, 500 employees, go? Incidentally, Burlington's own town pages say that its population of about 24000 grows to 150,000 during the day. I can't see Reading able to handle that. As for commercial along 128 in Reading- 12 years ago, after capping town dump, we had our best shot w/ Jordan's, HomeDepot, etc. A-W site back when I moved here in 2000 was supposed to be Marriott..that got dropped, then lifestyle center of 500K ft of retail proposal came in around 2006, where town seemed divided-- abutters (full disclosure-I'm only few streets away) argued that 500K sq ft of retail & up to 20K cars/day was too much for a site w/1 way in & out, shipping docks abutting backyards, etc. We would have vastly vastly preferred a "light industrial" use like a Keurig campus, a health facility like Hallmark, a software company, etc., but there were no takers at the time & property owner seemed to think the lifestyle center was its best bet...next was mixed residential/commercial overlay around 2008 that town passed, but again, no takers...finally it went to all residential.
George March 19, 2012 at 03:12 PM
This is another in a long line of failures by Reading to keep tuned in to what is going on with business. When they write the book the title will be "While Reading Slept". The next time a Selectman or the Town Manager have a regular meeting with a major local business will be the first time.

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