1/21/2011, Quincy, MA — By Jon Chesto
The Patriot Ledger
WESTBORO — Finally, they’re all under one roof.
After years of requiring employees to schlep among five buildings at BJ’s Wholesale Club’s campus in Natick, the discount retailer has consolidated its corporate staff into two interconnected buildings in Westboro.
The move began earlier this month, and the last of the roughly 950 corporate employees are expected to shift over to 25 Research Drive off Route 9 in Westboro within the next few days, BJ’s spokeswoman Kelly McFalls said.
McFalls said this move marked the first corporate relocation in the company’s nearly 27 years of operation. The lease for 282,000 square feet in Westboro at a former National Grid corporate office was ideal because it wasn’t far from Natick and wouldn’t significantly interfere with most of the employees’ commutes, McFalls said. She said the new headquarters complex also offers more room to accommodate future growth.
The internal renovations of the former National Grid building represented the biggest job of 2010 for Quincy-based J. Calnan & Associates, the project’s construction manager, according to Mike Crowther, a vice president at J. Calnan.
Crowther said the construction work began in September and included new data and security systems, rearranging of internal walls, new carpeting and a new paint job. On a given day, the construction work force on the site ranged from 100 to 145 people, according to the Quincy firm.
But BJ’s wasn’t looking for many substantial changes – or a particularly fancy new headquarters, Crowther said. That approach made the deal economically feasible for a retailer famous for its bargains.
“From a cost standpoint, BJ’s was able to utilize a lot of what National Grid had put in the building,” Crowther said. “They weren’t looking to build themselves a palace.”
National Grid, which moved its Westboro corporate staff to Waltham in 2009, still owns the property, although the British utility company has it on the market, Crowther said.
BJ’s had been growing at a steady pace in recent years, particularly in the recession when most retailers cut back. But BJ’s announced plans earlier this month to close five stores and cut about 60 corporate jobs. After the closings, McFalls said BJ’s has 189 stores – roughly the same number it had a year ago.
To celebrate its move to Westboro, McFalls said BJ’s made $1,500 donations to the Westborough Food Pantry, the Westborough Education Foundation and the Boroughs Family Branch YMCA.
Jon Chesto may be reached at email@example.com.