Bornstein & Pearl Food Production Center

196 Quincy Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts

1. Project Overview

Goal of the project: The Bornstein & Pearl Food Production Center is a gut rehab of a former meat packing facility, home to the Pearl Meat Packing Co., Inc. In 2006, the Pearl Meats factory relocated its operations, and the 36,000 SF industrial building sat vacant in the heart of a residential Boston neighborhood for four years. In 2010, Dorchester Bay EDC purchased the property from the meat company, and began a revitalization of a building that at its height had employed over 100 local workers. Dorchester Bay’s goal in redeveloping the site was to create a jobs center that would employ local residents of the Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan; would convert a blighted and vacant building into a vibrant, active center of the neighborhood; and would help to grow Boston’s local food economy.

Working with our partner CropCircle Kitchen, Inc., the Bornstein & Pearl project was designed to create a network of spaces for small food businesses to start up, expand, and eventually grow out of the facility. CropCircle Kitchen (CCK) leases 43% of the building, out of which it runs its second culinary incubator. The first incubator, in Jamaica Plain, provides hourly rental access to a shared commercial kitchen for start-up food entrepreneurs. The new Pearl location is intended to be used by slightly more advanced companies who seek specialized equipment such as high-capacity convection ovens. CCK also runs a commissary kitchen, where food trucks contract with CCK staff to prepare components of their meals, and with which institutions also contract for larger-scale meal preparation. Among the 30-40 businesses using the shared and commissary kitchens, CCK anticipates that 35 new jobs will be created in the first year.

As businesses outgrow the shared kitchen, they can move into the remaining 57% of the building, which is divided into spaces for mid-sized food businesses. Two out of the three tenants occupying these spaces are indeed graduates of CCK’s Jamaica Plain location. In their expansion, they are creating almost 40 new jobs in their first three years of operation. In order to meet our goals of creating employment opportunities for local residents, each tenant is required to make a best faith effort to hire locally. Dorchester Bay enables this by employing a job developer to create a pool of local workers who are qualified and available as tenants create new jobs. In the first year of operations alone, the first three tenants anticipate creating 14 new jobs. This is in a neighborhood with an estimated unemployment rate of 44%.

The Pearl Food Production Center is a cornerstone of the City of Boston’s Quincy Corridor Transformation Plan, a Choice Neighborhoods 2012 awardee. In partnership with the City of Boston, Dorchester Bay was awarded $12 million in funding to complete a combination of gut rehab and new construction of 129 units of affordable housing in need of modern upgrades. Also as part of the Choice award, DBEDC was awarded $500,000 in Critical Community Improvements Funds for a project that is projected to create 150 jobs within the first three years of operation.

Location of the site: Bornstein & Pearl is located in the Quincy Corridor in the Grove Hall area of Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Dorchester has a history of industrial development, but most of the industrial parcels are in pockets among otherwise residential neighborhoods. In the census tracts surrounding the project site, the unemployment rate is close to 44%. The Pearl site itself is nestled among three-family homes and apartment complexes, making it a challenging site from which to operate a food production facility.

Approximate size of the site: Approximately 1.914 acres.

Former use of the site: This site was formerly home to the Pearl Meat Packing Co., Inc., which had operated out of the main building on site, and had used various types of soaps, detergents, and degreasers in their operations. There was also a former automotive garage on site, which was demolished as part of the redevelopment, but which left behind a number of toxins, including petroleum, waste oil drums, and heavy metals in the soil. DBEDC acquired the property after the site had sat vacant for about four years, and because the main building still contained amenities essential for food production, such as washable wall surfaces, floor drains, insulated walls, and discrete spaces, it was ideal to focus on a similar food production use in redevelopment. Additionally, Dorchester Bay saw an important opportunity to put the vacant building to use as a jobs center where local residents could access jobs with a solid career ladder in the food industry.

Actual end use of the site: As of March 25, 2014, the site is home to the Bornstein & Pearl Food Production Center, which houses over 30 businesses ranging in size from start-ups to more established businesses in a mezzanine stage of growth.

Date the project was completed: March 25, 2014

Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation,
594 Columbia Road, Dorchester, Massachusetts

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