The Chelsea Clock company hasn’t moved from its storied headquarters on Everett Avenue for more than 100 years, but they’re about to do just that.
The good news is they’re staying home.
Chelsea Clock CEO JK Nicholas told the Record that Chelsea Clock would leave its long-time headquarters on Everett Avenue and move to a new location at 102 Second St. Though it is an historic move, it is one that will not be outside the City limits – refreshing to the company and the City alike.
“We’re very excited to stay in Chelsea,” he said. “I want to make it clear Jay Ash has been amazing supporters of us with anything we wanted to do. It was so important for us to stay in Chelsea. It’s not just keeping Chelsea Clock in Chelsea – the name and tradition and all. It’s also about our employees being local and we’re committed to our employees. That was very important…For us, the choice was to go overseas, which we rejected flatly on principal for a number of reasons. We wanted to stay in Chelsea at all costs and that’s what we were able to do.”
The company will locate in the old Atlantic Clothing building on the cobblestone section of Second Street, a building that is owned by the Anthony J. Simboli Companies. They will immediately begin building out the new space, Nicholas said, and the move will take place in late 2014.
City Manager Jay Ash said it was great to keep the clock company in the City, and said he was glad to have seen and helped two Chelsea institutions hammer out something that was good for everyone.
“I know that Chelsea Clock really wanted to stay in Chelsea, but they had a need for a modern manufacturing facility to compete now in its third century,” said Ash. “I know that Anthony Simboli had other, more grandiose plans, but he wanted to help our iconic business stay local. In the end, a great Chelsea business and a terrific Chelsea property owner figured out how to keep Chelsea Clock local. I’m happy to have played a small part in helping the parties put together a deal that worked for both of them, and even more happy that Chelsea Clock will remain a bedrock of our business and entire community for many more years to come”
Ash is said to have been working with both parties to help each arrive at a business deal that matched each parties desire to keep Chelsea Clock in Chelsea.
“It’s great to bring new businesses and investment into Chelsea, but it is equally as rewarding when our long-time businesses, and only Chelsea Bank has been in Chelsea longer, are able to say and grow here as well,” he said.
City Council President Matt Frank also said it was a relief to not lose the company to overseas manufacturing sites.
“Chelsea wouldn’t be Chelsea without Chelsea Clock,” he said. “They help make Chelsea ‘tick.’ We have been fortunate to have such a renowned small business call Chelsea home for over a century and I am ecstatic that they have committed to our city in their new location.”
That said, the other part to the story is the development plan that displaced the old clock company. While the move worked out to be a win for Chelsea Clock, they weren’t the initiators of the move.
Nicholas said the company has, interestingly enough, never owned the Chelsea Clock building. In fact, it is owned by local scrap metal magnate Billy Thibeault, who also operates Wood Waste nearby in Everett.
Grandiose plans for the Vale Street corridor behind Chelsea Clock have been discussed over the last year or so, and word on the street is that Thibeault would like to locate hundreds of units of housing on the site in a multi-year buildout.
Nothing of that sort could be confirmed, but it’s been discussed at times recently in the Economic Development Board’s public meetings.
“We were kind of asked to leave and we realized it would be a good chance to upgrade and make a facility that will accommodate us for the next 100 years,” Nicholas said. “The building that we have occupied we don’t own. The actual landlord, Bill Thibeault, wanted to do something else with the area. That area will be developed differently, but we don’t have any information about that.”
Nicholas said they are excited to move into a building that is also 100 years old, but will be built out in the most modern way.
“It has had manufacturing since its beginning and we’ll continue that,” he said. “Since it is 100 years old, it will have that same character of soul and will also be refurbished in a very modern way.”
The move will actually result in less space for the clock company, but that’s not a bad thing Nicholas said.
He said they have, over the years, been farming out work to local machinists to create many of the tiny parts of the clocks. Meanwhile, they keep the manufacturing, delicate repair work and engineering functions within the headquarters.