FALL RIVER – A 1 million square foot plant, bringing 500 jobs, is being planned for the biopark.
The city Redevelopment Authority signed a letter of intent Wednesday with an unnamed national company to begin the process of selling 91 acres off of Innovation Way.
The negotiations took place in executive session, according to Ken Fiola, the executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development. FROED is the business agent for the RDA.
A letter of intent is standard procedure in large land purchases like this, Fiola said. It precedes a purchase and sales agreement.
The LOI allows the company to do its due diligence, Fiola said. Engineers for the company have permission to go onto the land to make sure it is suitable for the facility being planned. It will also allow for environmental testing to make sure the land isn’t contaminated or flooded by ground water.
Preliminary building design can also begin during this period, Fiola said.
“Every company that buys property enters into an LOI,” Fiola said.
The company has 120 days to let the RDA know if it intends to go through with the purchase, according to the agreement signed.
Mayor Jasiel Correia II said Friday that there are a lot of steps left to the deal, including a debate about the sale itself.
He declined substantial comment Thursday afternoon.
“There are a lot of details here,” he said. “We have to look at possible TIFs (tax increment financing agreements).”
He added: “We have to look at the fact that they are taking remaining acreage in the biopark with only a quarter of the jobs of Amazon.”
Few details about the deal have been made public.
Because the matter is still in negotiations, the RDA met in executive session to discuss the possible sale. That is allowed under the state’s open meeting law. Having taken an action, like signing a letter of intent, requires the RDA to publicly acknowledge the step.
The proposed price for the land has not been disclosed.
Trammell Crow, the company that built and owns the Amazon facility in the biopark, purchased 78 acres of land in the biopark in 2015 for $50,000 an acre, a total of $3.9 million.
There is no estimate yet on when construction could begin or when the sale can be completed, Fiola said.
The RDA owns the undeveloped portions of the 300 acre SouthCoast Life Science and Technology Park.
“Anytime you enter into a letter of intent, that is a good faith action by both parties that they want to move the project along,” Fiola said.
During a meeting with the FROED board of directors Thursday Fiola said the company involved planned to spend $100 million on the project.
“It is a significant employment opportunity,” he said. “Something that will create blue-collar jobs in Fall River.”