Tortilla Factory a Step Closer to Opening

This building on Crescent Avenue is now a restaurant supply, but it is the latest attempt by Chelsea's Cinco de Mayo Foods to find a home for their new tortilla factory.

Though it’s not yet all wrapped up, a tortilla factory’s proposal on Crescent Avenue received an important approval last week in its quest to locate in Chelsea.

But there’s not yet time for a siesta, as the company has one more fiesta scheduled before the Zoning Board this month.

This is the second go-around for Cinco de Mayo Mexican Foods, a company that has been operating in Chelsea for years, in their bid to launch a new factory in Chelsea. Previously, they fought a long battle to locate on the Chelsea Waterfront, but were batted back by numerous concerned residents who did not warm up to the idea at all.

That defeat opened up the newest bid on 224 Crescent Ave. near the Mary Burke School Complex. Currently, a restaurant supply business occupies the 23,000 sq. ft. space, but they are scheduled to leave and building owner Ed Swansburg is arguing to let the tortilla factory locate there.

That reality came one step closer on Aug. 23 when the Planning Board gave a positive recommendation to the plan, but with conditions that including adding employee parking to an adjacent lot.

Other conditions included limiting loading hours and coordinating with the nearby school to avoid gridlock during pick-up and drop-off.

However, despite the location being zoned as light industrial, Chelsea has changed tremendously and this historically industrial area is now lined with brand new lofts and residences.

And some of the occupants of those new spaces aren’t so keen on a busy factory next door.

The tortilla factory is but a stone’s throw from the new Spencer Lofts, and it is also but a block from the One Webster Place that is under construction. With that in play, similar concerns that existed on the Waterfront are surfacing.

One neighbor has submitted a letter of opposition to the City, pretty much stating that the proposal would change the character of the new neighborhood and also bring in truck traffic.

“I know our neighborhood is much newer and less historic than that of the Waterfront, but as we grow and become more and more of a residential neighborhood, I don’t see that a tortilla factory is the right answer for the space,” wrote Lindsey Cimochowski, a resident of the Spencer Lofts.

On the flip side, the economy is floundering in Chelsea and everywhere else and the tortilla proposal promises 40 new manufacturing jobs on the site. It is also a company that has typically employed Chelsea residents first.

The proposal’s specifics are that they would be putting three ovens in the facility that would exhaust through the roof and would not produce any noise.

For truck traffic, they would require the regular movement of two, 24-foot delivery trucks and, once a week, would require a large trailer truck delivery bringing ingredients for the tortillas.

The factory would require two manufacturing shifts, one running from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the second running from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Zoning Board will discuss the matter on Sept. 13th at City Hall.

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