By Seth Daniel
The Boston Flower Exchange has officially leased space on Second Street and will move this month to establish its long-standing wholesale market in Chelsea as the New England Flower Exchange.
The Exchange has been located in the South End for decades next to the Expressway – having been sold by the City of Boston during the Urban Renewal period to establish the regional market. However, with a hot real estate market, the Exchange saw opportunity in selling the property. Last summer, the Abbey Group of Boston was identified as the buyer and approved by the City. As of the end of this calendar year, the Exchange had to be vacated, leaving a gaping hole in the wholesale flower business that Chelsea will fill.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino indicated that the Exchange has signed a lease of approximately 15 years with property owner Tony Cassano to locate in the old Kettle Cuisine soup company headquarters at 260 Second St. near the New England Produce Market. Kettle Cuisine moved to Lynn about three years ago.
“He alerted me six months ago that it might be a possibility,” said Ambrosino. “The City was happy for him to get what seems like a good tenant. It fills a vacant building. That’s an important benefit to this. We don’t like to see large industrial buildings vacant, so we always want to see those buildings leased.”
The Exchange posted confirmation on its website late last month as well, noting that they will be opening in Chelsea at some point in January.
“We’re still selling flowers after all these years and will be for a whole lot more,” read a message on the site. “Recently the Boston Flower Exchange, Inc. was acquired by a Boston real estate development company with plans to develop the current flower market property at a future date… A vast majority of wholesalers of the Boston Flower Exchange, Inc., are committed to perpetuating the flower market tradition in the greater Boston area with the seamless transition to a new facility – the New England Flower Market, located in Chelsea. The new location will be one stop shopping, the way that it has always been. Better selection; more convenience and businesses that you know and trust. Just remember when one door closes another will open. See you in Chelsea.”
The Exchange also lists a website of www.newenglandflowermarket.com, which is not yet operable.
The Exchange lists 13 wholesale vendors as members, and it was not immediately apparent which vendors would follow the exchange to Chelsea.
The Exchange is not a retail outlet, and requires one to have a Florists license and certification to purchase products – much like the Produce Center.
In that essence, Ambrosino said, the Exchange will be a good fit on Second Street near what is a wholesale fruit and food clearinghouse for all of New England.