DEVENS -- Devens' industrial zone is filling up.

O'Reilly Auto Parts is expected to open a distribution center on Independence Drive and create 80 jobs there after the Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) unanimously approved the site plan on Thursday.

With O'Reilly's move into the 378,000-square-foot former Krafts Food warehouse, Devens' industrial zone, which expands along Independence Drive, Barnum Road and Saratoga Boulevard, will now only have one building left vacant -- the former Sonoco Products Co. packaging center on Independence Drive -- according to DEC Executive Director Peter Lowitt.

"It's great news. It fills up another empty building off the books and creates employment for a large number of people," Lowitt said of O'Reilly's project.

O'Reilly, a Springfield, Mo.-based company with 4,135 retail stores (including one in Billerica) in 42 states, plans to convert 15 Independence Drive into its new Northeastern Distribution Center. The company plans to create 80 jobs immediately and more than 300 in total in the long run, Lowitt said.

Founded in 1957, O'Reilly is a public company. It posted 2012 sales of more than $6.1 billion.

An O'Reilly's representative could not be reached for comment on Monday. However, in the company's third-quarter report, President and CEO Greg Henslee said the Northeastern Distribution Center in Devens is being relocated from Lewiston, Maine, and will open sometime in the second half of 2014.


Advertisement

"It will have the capacity to service 280 stores, allowing us to better support our existing stores in those markets and providing a foundation for our continued growth in New England," he said in a statement.

15 Independence Drive was formerly used as a warehouse for the Veryfine Products juice company when Kraft owned it, according to Lowitt. The warehouse closed sometime after Sunny Delight acquired Veryfine, he said.

O'Reilly adds to a list of companies that have recently taken up vacant buildings in the industrial zone. Quiet Logistics, a warehouse business that is known for its use of robots to locate and sort products, opened a new 200,000-square-foot facility in the former Gillette complex on Saratoga Boulevard in May 2011 and then expanded into the former Anheuser-Busch facility on Barnum Road more recently.

Lowitt said vacant spaces began filling up more quickly at the end of the summer. Now, only an Independence Drive building that housed Sonoco remains vacant in Devens' industrial zone, he said.