Blodgett Oven's current building on Lakeside Avenue
Blodgett Oven will move to Essex after 169 years in Burlington — and a group of investors has purchased its sprawling industrial complex on the shore of Lake Champlain in the Lakeside neighborhood.
The future of the coveted Lakeside Avenue property, with shoreline and expansive views of the Adirondacks across the lake, has been the subject of speculation for years. Investors using the name Lakeside Ovens LLC purchased it on June 23. The group paid $14.3 million — well above the grand list value of $4.1 million.
Matt Daly, the Burlington attorney representing the buyers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.
City officials don't know what the new owners have in mind, according to the office of Mayor Miro Weinberger.
"It is painful to see a 170-year-old company leave Burlington," Weinberger said in a statement. "However, knowing this move will allow Blodgett to expand and grow jobs in Vermont, and the great potential the former site has to meet today's Burlington goals, I am excited that this long-sought sale has been completed."
Blodgett employees also find the notion of vacating their current digs bittersweet.
"I love the view outside the office," said Erica Havers, vice president and controller for Blodgett. "But I understand that we're not in the travel and tourism business; we're in the manufacturing business. It's the right move to grow our business." She said Blodgett will move to Essex early in 2018.
Blodgett, which was founded in Burlington in 1848, manufactures a variety of ovens and commercial kitchenware. It's owned by the Illinois-based Middleby Corporation and currently employs about 200 people, Havers said.
The manufacturing facility with a view of the lake
The existing campus of three buildings could no longer accommodate the growing workforce, she added. "We've been outgrowing this space for 20 years," she said. "We're at capacity."
The company purchased a 180,000-square-foot warehouse at 42 Allen Martin Drive in Essex.
Blodgett Oven bought the new building from the Miller Realty Group. The warehouse will be retrofitted into office and manufacturing space, Havers said. Market Forge Industries, another Middleby Corporation entity, is already located in Essex.
The new facility will provide more than double the available manufacturing space, Havers said.