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Another Groundbreaking Initiative

Development Associates Is Adding to Its Westover Portfolio

It never gets old, but Ken Vincunas certainly has this routine down pat.

On July 29, a groundbreaking ceremony at Westover Airpark West in Chicopee will signal the start of construction on a 72,000-square-foot multi-tenant industrial complex that Vincunas and his company, Agawam-based Development Associates, are undertaking as a joint venture with an investor from Long Island.

This will be the company’s 10th development in the Westover cluster of parks in Chicopee and Ludlow — Airpark’s West, East, and North — that are controlled by the Westover Metropolitan Development Corp., and the 15th in Chicopee over the past 25 years or so. And there have several other developments in area parks controlled by Westover’s sister organization, WestMass Area Development Corp.

So Vincunas knows the drill — or the dig, as the case may be.

There will be a gathering of Chicopee city officials, maybe the city’s state senator and representative, a contingent from Westover Metropolitan and the Economic Development Corp. (including director Allan Blair), Vincunas, and whomever he might be partnering with. There will be a few pictures, and then the ceremonial tossing of some dirt.

It gets repetitive, said Vincunas, but never dull, because his various developments in Chicopee — there are more dots there than anywhere else on the map detailing the company’s many projects — have done well, and there are similar expectations for this latest initiative.

To be built on a 7.6-acre site — one of the last remaining in Airpark West — the so-called ‘flex building’ will feature a yet-to-be-named anchor tenant, which will locate a flooring-products distribution center on 25,000 square feet. Another 47,000 square feet will be built out to suit several smaller industrial tenants, and Vincunas believes there will be considerable interest — enough to provide the confidence needed to build what amounts to spec space when the economy is soft.

“There are always companies that are doing well, growing, and looking to get to that next level,” he explained. “Even at times like this, there are companies looking for more space, or better-functioning space, or simply an upgrade.”

And this consistent state of need has provided Vincunas with nearly 30 years of groundbreaking ceremonies in Chicopee. The first was in 1979, when the company constructed a building for ChemLawn (now TruGreen). Subsequent developments included three buildings for Porter & Chester Institute, a large structure for Allan Ritchie Corp., and the first — and still only — building in the Chicopee River Business Park (a WestMass facility), now housing laser manufacturer Convergent Prima.

And, while keeping Chicopee officials busy donning hard hats, Development Associates has also conducted similar dirt-throwing ceremonies across Western Mass. on its way to amassing a portfolio of more than 1.2 million square feet. Other developments have taken place in Agawam (including a recently completed 28,000-square-foot office complex), Greenfield, Westfield, Palmer, Deerfield, and several communities in Connecticut.

Vincunas told BusinessWest that he expects to add perhaps six to eight smaller industrial tenants at his latest location in Chicopee, and that full occupancy can probably be accomplished over the next 18 months.

If he keeps to that schedule, then there will likely be another groundbreaking in Chicopee sometime soon.

—George O’Brien

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