Copart – Freetown, MA

By December 21, 2023 Engineering News

The location of Copart’s regional hub in Freetown, Massachusetts, tells a unique story of environmental reclamation and industrial repurposing. Situated on a 400-acre former industrial site along the Taunton River, this extensive project faced numerous challenges, including wetlands, remediation concerns, and the sensitive nature of the Taunton River coastline. The journey from concept to reality spanned 15 years and involved multiple layers of review from state, federal, and local agencies. The result was a 2+ million square foot business park, later adapted to become a crucial regional hub for Copart, a leading online auto auction company.

The project was initiated by developer Churchill & Banks. DiPrete worked on different concepts for various uses of the site. Initially envisioned as a business park to be developed over the course of 10-20 years, the plan changed when Copart, a renowned online auto auction company, entered into an agreement to purchase the entire property. The new vision for the site transformed it into a massive car storage facility, with the capacity to house up to 22,000 cars, specifically designated for “catastrophe storage” in the event of a natural disaster. Copart specializes in processing totaled cars, giving them a new life through resale or salvage.

With Copart’s involvement, the project’s scope and timeline changed dramatically. The site, originally planned for gradual development, shifted gears to accommodate a single-phase construction of 100 acres of car storage. Overcoming the challenges of such a significant alteration, the team embarked on an expedited schedule, completing the design, permitting, and construction phases in an unprecedented two-year timeframe. This achievement is noteworthy given the project’s size, complexity, and the extensive level of permitting involved. Overcoming hurdles such as wetlands and environmental concerns, the team navigated a complex permitting process that involved MEPA (Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act), DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), DOT (Department of Transportation), and the Town of Freetown.

The Copart facility in Freetown has been operational for nearly two years, showcasing the efficiency and dedication that went into its development. The history of the Copart facility reflects the resilience and adaptability required in large-scale development projects. The site’s transformation is a testament to the perseverance of the development team and the success that can be achieved through innovative thinking, careful planning, and effective collaboration with regulatory bodies and the local community.

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