BENNINGTON — Starbucks is planning to open a new store on Northside Drive in Bennington.
A company spokesperson confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon, saying “Starbucks is always looking for great locations to better meet the needs of our customers, and we are happy to confirm that we will be opening a new location at 108 Northside Drive Bennington, Vt., in spring 2024.”
The spokesperson added that the restaurant “will employ 25 partners (employees) and feature a drive thru.”
A memorandum of lease agreement regarding the 2.04-acre Northside Drive parcel, which changed hands last month, was filed Jan. 5 with the town clerk’s office. In the document, reference also is made to a possible Chipotle restaurant on the property.
In the past, a large white building on the site served as an auto dealership and previously was the first home of the former ChemFab Corp., which formed here in 1968 and moved to a new building in North Bennington during the late 1970s.
The Northside Drive property was sold last month by JFL Bennington Realty LLC for $799,000 to Bennington DT 1 LLC, a real estate rental/leasing firm based in Columbus, Ohio. The sale was recorded with the town clerk’s office on Dec. 28.
The memorandum of lease agreement filed with the clerk this month would provide Starbucks Corp. with an initial 10-year lease of the property and up to four consecutive five-year lease extensions.
The agreement does not specify what building improvements, demolition or new construction is planned for the site.
As a tenant of the property, Starbucks would be able to use the site, including a drive-thru facility and outdoor seating space, for retail or restaurant purposes, as well as the sale of beer and wine for on-premise consumption, if permitted.
In addition, the memorandum states, “In the event that the initial occupant of the other building on the shopping center is Chipotle, then tenant [Starbucks] shall not operate primarily as a restaurant that primarily serves Mexican food.”
Because the existing building on the property once housed ChemFab Corp. fabric coating operations involving liquid Teflon and the contaminant PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), the site has undergone environmental evaluation.
Asked about the status of the property, Richard Spiese, an environmental analyst with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said, “The building was evaluated for PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and other hazardous wastes issues and found not to need any further cleanup to mitigate any issues on the property.”
However, Spiese said that under a court consent decree that required the last owner of the ChemFab plants here — Saint Gobain Performance Plastics — to pay to mitigate pollution, the company also must develop a corrective action plan for the Northside Drive property.
Spiese said a plan is expected to go out for public comment this year.
He added, “I suspect the building will be torn down and the property redeveloped like many properties in Bennington.”
The emission of PFOA from the exhaust stacks of the ChemFab plants spread over a wide area of Bennington and polluted hundreds of local wells. However, parcels served by the town water system rather than wells were not polluted by the airborne contaminant.