Westfield Data-Center Project Makes a Hard Push for the Finish Line

BusinessWest (September 29, 2021)

Putting the Pieces Together

It’s called a ‘hyper-scale data center.’ That’s the name attached to a $2.7 billion proposal planned for a 155-acre parcel in Westfield. The complicated project, now entering the local-approval phase, has cleared perhaps the biggest hurdle — the aggregation of a site that can check a unique set of boxes, including accessibility to huge amounts of power and data. If it comes to fruition — and there are still many challenges to overcome — the project could make the region a player in the emerging sector known as Big Data.

Demetrios Panteleakis says he spent a good part of the winter, spring, and some of the summer walking through all 150 acres of mostly raw land in the northwest corner of Westfield.

“I probably know every inch of it by now,” Panteleakis, the principal commercial broker with Springfield-based Macmillan Group, who was charged with assembling the parcel, told BusinessWest, adding that he’s been through it in every type of weather imaginable. “I think my family thought I had gotten into hiking and the outdoors.”

These walks in the woods — and wetlands — were a necessary part of a complicated process to aggregate land for what could be the largest private development the region has ever seen and one of the largest initiatives of its kind anywhere — a $2.7 billion proposal to build a massive data center (a ‘hyper-scale data center,’ as it’s called) that will attract the likes of Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

Plans call for constructing 10 buildings totaling 2.7 million square feet over the next 12 to 18 years, said Erik Bartone, CEO of Servistar Realty, the project’s developer. He told BusinessWest he hopes to obtain local approvals by the end of the year and state approvals by mid-2022, and break ground in 2023.

It’s a daring project, one that comes complete with all kinds of large numbers and adjectives (like hyper-scale) that connote size and scope affixed to everything from acreage to the projected cost of the initiative to the number of landowners with which Panteleakis and the Servistar had to negotiate.

That last number would be 11, just one indicator of the level of complexity involved with getting just this far, said Panteleakis, adding that finding a location and assembling the land are perhaps the biggest hurdle for a project that will face many of them — everything from required approvals for a tax-incentive plan to steps to protect endangered species, such as the eastern box turtle.

As for securing a site … a project of this nature and scope requires that a number of unique boxes be checked, said Panteleakis. These include the ability to draw power, and large amounts of it, straight from the grid — two recently upgraded 115 kV high-transmission lines run through the center of the site — as well as access to a reliable, high-speed fiber communications network. Competitive cost of doing business is also high on the list, as is a skilled workforce and easy access to major markets.

“Finding the right location in New England for a hyper-scale data-center development is difficult.”

When all is said and done, it certainly isn’t easy to find a parcel — or parcels that can be aggregated — that can check all those boxes.

“Finding the right location in New England for a hyper-scale data-center development is difficult,” Bartone said. “Access to the electric transmission grid, robust fiber communication network, sufficient land, and the ability to develop the project in an environmentally responsible manner are all very important issues that must be fully evaluated before proceeding with a particular location.”

As noted, the proposal still has many hurdles to clear, but it’s not too early to speculate on what this could mean for the city and the region.

Rick Sullivan, who can speak about the project from a number of perspectives — he’s president and CEO of the Western Mass. Economic Development Council, but also former mayor of Westfield and a current city councilor — said it represents an opportunity to show what the region can do for the emerging sector known as Big Data — and perhaps do more of.

Rick Sullivan says the Westfield data-center project, if it becomes reality, could open the door to new opportunities in the realm known as Big Data.

“This is somewhat of a new sector for us, so I think there’s an opportunity to get attention,” he explained. “Sometimes, getting that first development in a sector is the hardest thing, and then, once that happens, the others do take notice.”

Jeff Daley, president and CEO of WestMass Area Development Corp., which has been hired as a consultant on the Westfield project, agreed.

“It’s an exciting project — this is a game changer,” he said. “If we get this project across the goal line, it opens up an entire industry; we would have the potential to bring other data centers here.”

As for Panteleakis, the data-center project represents another bullet point on a résumé complete with a number of big projects with complicated logistics, something he’s becoming known for within the development industry.

Indeed, when he was not walking the Westfield property and negotiating with all those owners, he was flying to Miami to put the final touches on a massive, $1 billion project that combines residential living with transportation, retail, and office space.

“This is somewhat of a new sector for us, so I think there’s an opportunity to get attention. Sometimes, getting that first development in a sector is the hardest thing, and then, once that happens, the others do take notice.”

The two projects offered a number of different challenges, with COVID presenting new and different issues to contend with, he said, adding that they epitomize what has come to be one of his trademark talents — putting the many pieces together on complicated real-estate puzzles.

For this issue, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at how this complicated Westfield project came together and how this initiative could change the landscape — in all kinds of ways.

Big Bytes

Panteleakis told BusinessWest that, on many of his flights to and from Florida, he didn’t have much company on the airplane.

“I was on a 747 out of Boston — because you couldn’t fly out of Bradley to Florida — that had two other people on it,” he said. “It was weird. Logan was a ghost town, Miami International was a ghost town; it was very strange.”

That was how things were as he was working on two massive projects on opposite ends of the Atlantic seaboard.

The Miami initiative was a complicated matter of putting the pieces together for a project called Virgin MiamiCentral, a nine-acre living center in the heart of the city that includes 3 million square feet of commercial, office, and retail space, capped with twin residential towers, each more than 40 stories high, sitting atop a train station and retail hub.

Jeff Daley says the data-center project could be a game changer for the region.

Meanwhile, what is now known as the Westfield data-center campus became a very complicated matter of aggregating property that could meet all those unique requirements listed earlier.

In most all cases, the land required for such projects doesn’t come in one parcel, but several of them, which means negotiations on acquiring options — as in quiet negotiations — have to take place with a number of parties simultaneously.

Panteleakis, who compared it to cutting the Gordian knot, tried to put it in perspective for BusinessWest.

“We worked with about four or five different brokers in Western Mass. who represented some of the 11 owners, which at times made things easier, but a predominance of the owners self-represented,” he explained. “And that included people who had ongoing businesses, and it was very arduous and long and, of course, highly confidential.

“It was heavy lifting,” he went on, “and to see it at this stage is very gratifying.”

Overall, it took roughly 14 months to put the parcel in place to the point where the developer could move forward, he said, adding that the site, while challenged by wetlands and environmental issues, provides the size, location, and direct access to the grid needed by Servistar and its eventual clients.

“There’s currently nothing of this scale in the region due primarily to very high retail electricity costs, high property taxes, and significant regulatory challenges.”

The company has a considerable amount of experience with such projects, said Bartone, adding that Servistar has been in the electricity-procurement and energy- management business for 30 years, supporting large-scale commercial and industrial clients, including data and IT service clients.

“Our firm has provided advisory services to several data-center clients, including the management and procurement of their wholesale electricity requirements,” he told BusinessWest, adding that the company currently represents a hyper-scale data-center client that is looking to enter the New England market once local approvals are obtained for the Westfield project.

Elaborating, he said there are several smaller-edge data centers in New England, including in the Boston area, but there are currently no hyper-scale data centers in New England, and for several reasons.

“There’s currently nothing of this scale in the region due primarily to very high retail electricity costs, high property taxes, and significant regulatory challenges,” he explained. “Our firm specializes in the wholesale electricity-procurement markets along with the integration of innovative load-management strategies to proactively reduce the electricity costs for data centers and large power users.

“This is a key cost driver for the industry and critical to making the hyper-scale data-center project feasible,” he went on. “Electricity expenditures typically represent 50% to 60% of the operating costs of a data center. Property taxes typically represent 10% to 15% of operating expenses. These two operating cost components, along with local regulatory approvals, are the primary drivers to locate hyper-scale data centers to New England.”

Bartone said Servistar reviewed numerous sites in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts before focusing on Westfield, a community that emerged in this search roughly 18 months ago.

“We identified various parcels in the city’s industrial zones that met the requirements for the site, but the area is challenging to develop due to wetlands and endangered species, including the eastern box turtle,” he noted. “So we needed a substantial amount of land that would support the 10 data-center building development while also allowing us to minimize environmental impacts.”

Beyond meeting the energy, fiber, and property-tax requirements, the site is also centrally located between Boston, New York City, Providence, Albany, and Hartford, said Bartone, thus providing access to more than 34 million people in the Greater New York metropolitan area and New England. It is also in close proximity to the Westfield-Barnes regional airport with corporate service, only 20 miles from Bradley International Airport, and approximately 100 miles from Logan International Airport.

“Boston also has a high-tech, information-based economy that is an attractive market for corporate offices of companies locating to Westfield for their IT services,” he said, adding that this concentration of trained tech workers was still another selling point.

Powerful Statement

As he talked about the project and its prospects for becoming reality, Sullivan turned to the often-used analogy of getting over the goal line.

He said this project isn’t in the proverbial red zone yet, but it is certainly past midfield and making steady progress.

“There’s still a long way to go, but once they have options on the property and they’re doing work around wetlands and having discussions with the electricity suppliers, you’re past midfield, but you’re not home yet,” he explained. “I don’t think you can have a higher, better use of that property.”

Daley said the next important step is approval of what’s known as a 121A, or PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) property-tax agreement that locks in the assessed value of the property, with built-in annual increases in property-tax payments. Westfield officials have said the project would bring in $1.2 million in tax payments within three years, making the campus the largest taxpayer in the city.

A joint public hearing between the Planning Board and City Council on the proposed agreement is slated for early October, said Daley, adding that there are other approvals, on both the local and state levels, that must be secured in the coming months.

“We’re hoping to have all local permits in hand by the end of the year,” he explained. “Shortly thereafter, we’d begin work on designs and infrastructure; it would be about 18 to 24 months from go date to being operational.”

Meanwhile, speculation continues about what this project could mean for Westfield and the region. That discussion takes place on many levels, starting with immediate, tangible benefits.

That list includes 1,800 construction jobs, 1,200 indirect jobs that will result from creation of the center, and what is projected to be 400 jobs that will pay between $85,000 to $100,000 at the entry level.

“When people in economic development talk about job creation, these are the kinds of jobs that you’re looking to create,” Sullivan said. “These employees will live in our communities, they’ll invest in our communities, they’ll shop in our communities, and they’ll support the charities in our communities, as will the companies.”

There’s also the tax revenue; Servistar has negotiated a 40-year property-tax agreement with the city that is expected to produce more than $350 million in direct property-tax payments over the term of that agreement.

Beyond these direct benefits, though, is that opportunity Sullivan and Daley mentioned for the region to not only get in the game when it comes to Big Data, but become a player in that sector, which would appear to have almost unlimited potential.

“If you look in the crystal ball, this is a sector that’s only going to grow,” Sullivan said. “And of you overlay data storage and data transmission and all the issues that are somewhat related, such as cybersecurity and other Big Data, I think there’s a real opportunity for us in Western Massachusetts to grow and in some ways lead, if you will, in this sector.

“We have out colleges, especially Bay Path and the University of Massachusetts, that are doing a lot of cutting-edge work in cybersecurity and Big Data, and others will certainly follow,” he went on. “And this will help train a workforce, which is always significant as these companies look to grow.”

As for some of those other boxes that need to be checked, Sullivan acknowledged that the cost of doing business in this state is not as low as in some other areas of the Northeast, but Western Mass. is certainly more cost-friendly that Boston and other metropolitan areas. “Developing in New England may not be the cheapest, but we’re still competitive.”

Bottom Line

Panteleakis — who, as noted, has been involved in large development projects in many areas of the country — said the Westfield data-center campus project represents the type of development that all regions are striving for.

“I’ve done a lot of work in Florida and Texas, and this is how they drive economic development for the 21st century in their areas; they’re focusing on new sectors and technologies,” he explained. “This project will have a tremendous impact on quality of life in Westfield and across the region. It will have a very broad impact.”

As those we spoke with noted, there are still many hurdles to overcome before this proposal becomes reality. If it can clear those obstacles, it could be transformative in many different ways.

Original article available here.

Sarah la Cour, Westmass VP of Operations | New England Real Estate Journal 2021 Women in Commercial Real Estate Spotlight

New England Real Estate Journal (September 24, 2021)

What led you to your current profession?

My professional path through landscape architecture, historic preservation and economic development has allowed me to evolve my career into the field of real estate development. The experience and skill set that I’ve acquired has provided me the opportunity to now enjoy the multiple projects and responsibilities associated with brownfield redevelopment, real estate development, economic and community
development.

In the past year, what project, transaction or accomplishment are you the most proud of?

This year, Westmass was awarded a $460,000 2021 EPA Brownfield Cleanup grant
for one of our properties, The Ludlow Mills, to continue the process of remediation in historic mill buildings. I’m proud of the fact that the Westmass team worked together to successfully secure these funds and continue our redevelopment activities to advance the rejuvenation of this remarkable historic mill complex.

What is one characteristic that you believe every woman in commercial real estate should possess?

A sense of humor. Throughout my life and career, it has been helpful for me to always try to look at things with humor. Whether at a particular situation and at myself, I’ve found that being able to find a way to laugh can de-escalate a conflict or solve a problem with grace and confidence. Sharing a laugh with a colleague or client also helps create a positive and cheerful atmosphere to accomplish great work in.

Original article available here (p.51)

Westmass Planning 2022 Start for $29.9m Housing Project at Ludlow Mills

New England Real Estate Journal (August 27, 2021)

According to Westmass Area Development Corp. (Westmass) and WinnDevelopment with state financing now in place, construction is expected to begin in early 2022 on a $29.9 million project to transform the landmark Mill 8 at the historic Ludlow Mills complex into 95 mixed- income apartments for adults 55 and older and a center for supportive healthcare services.

The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) recently announced new tax credits and subsidies to support the next phase of the ambitious adaptive reuse project, focusing on the section of the 116-year-old complex that contains the clock tower shown on the town’s seal. The Mill 8 project follows the successful transformation of Mill 10, which offers 75 units of mixed-income housing for adults 55 and older.

“There is a three to five-year wait for vacancies in the Residences at Mill 10, proving how vitally important it is to deliver additional quality apartment homes to seniors in and around Ludlow,” said Larry Curtis, president and managing partner of WinnDevelopment. “The continued support of the Baker-Polito Administration was the last piece of the financing puzzle needed for us to begin the next phase of work to preserve and revive one of the town’s most treasured historic assets.”

Overseen by WinnDevelopment senior vice president Adam Stein and senior project director Lauren Canepari, the project has received enthusiastic support from the local, state and federal officials representing Ludlow. The town has committed state and federal monies for several key infrastructure improvements, including the ongoing construction of Riverside Dr. and the addition of a wastewater pumping station for the area. In addition, the National Park Service has committed federal historic tax credits to the effort.

“Projects like Mill 8 that bring mixed-unit, affordable housing to the community are an important part of the solution required to address the Commonwealth’s housing crisis and our administration is proud to support them,” said governor Charlie Baker. “Unlocking additional opportunities for community and economic development across the state will require more housing of all types in every corner of Massachusetts, and this project stands as an example of how we can continue making progress toward our goals.”

Support from the Baker-Polito Administration includes federal and state low-income housing tax credits, as well as monies from the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Housing Stabilization Fund and HOME program.

“The Commonwealth’s housing crisis will only be resolved by the production of more housing and through more projects like Mill 8,” said secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. “Thanks to their many partners and the town of Ludlow, these new units will be specially designed for families of all incomes and with supportive services to help people stay in the community they call home.”

The 95 apartments to be built inside Mill 8 will cater to a wide range of incomes, offering 43 affordable units for rent at 60% of Area Median Income (AMI), 40 market units, and 12 extremely low-income units available at 30% of AMI. The first phase of the project, now known as the Residences at Mill 10, is 88% affordable.

“The cost of housing is one of the single greatest challenges facing our Commonwealth and that challenge has been amplified dramatically by the pandemic,” said state senator Eric Lesser. “This development will be a welcome addition to Ludlow with 95 new affordable housing units. It will unlock opportunity and alleviate some pressure for housing access right here in Western Mass.”

In addition to modern apartments, the project has partnered with WestMass Eldercare to create a 5,000 s/f adult day health center inside the building that will provide on-site, enhanced supportive services to residents of Mill 8 and Mill 10, including nurse visits, a service coordinator, healthy living programming and transportation to the nearby Ludlow Senior Center.

“I am proud to see the public and private partnership between federal, state, and local government with Westmass Area Development Corp. and WinnDevelopment to breathe new life into the iconic Mill 8,” said state representative Jake Oliveira. “As the project enters its next stage, I’m excited to see the clock tower mill building that adorns our town seal to finally become fully functional once again.”

The redeveloped property also will contain common area amenities, including on-site laundry facilities, on-site management, a fitness room, a resident lounge, and several outside recreation areas to serve future residents.

“Since Westmass began this project over 10 years ago, it has always been a priority to get Mill #8 redeveloped,” said Antonio Dos Santos, board chair, Westmass Area Development Corp. “This building has the marquee presence of the entire mill complex and we are excited that the transformation of this iconic building will be getting underway soon.”

Nearly 43,000 s/f of space on the first floor of Mill 8 will be available for lease to local businesses.

“As Westmass continues its redevelopment of the Ludlow Mills, we are excited to see the long-awaited Mill #8 transformation begin. Westmass will also benefit from this as we will retain the majority of the first floor for commercial development,” said Jeff Daley, president & CEO of Westmass Area Development Corp. “As we pull together different uses in the Mills complex, housing is one of the priorities and we are excited to partner again with WinnDevelopment with the continued support of the Baker-Polito Administration.

The design and construction in Mill 8 will meet the standards of Enterprise Green Communities (EGC), an environmental certification program for affordable housing that includes milestones for water conservation, energy efficiency, healthy materials, and green operations and management.

The Westmass Area Development Corp. (Westmass) is an experienced, private not-for-profit industrial and business development corporation created to promote and assist business growth in western Massachusetts. Westmass’ demonstrated record of success includes development of over 2,500 acres in 13 industrial parks and projects; enabling the build-out of over 12 million s/f of commercial space and residential units; leveraging $400 million in invested resources on our developments; and helping create over 10,000 jobs.

Link to Article

Westfield Lands $2.7 Billion Data Campus

Westfield Mayor Donald Humason, left, and Community Development director Peter Miller visit the site on Servicestar Industrial Way of the proposed Westfield Data Center Campus project on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Don Treeger / The Republican)

Masslive (August 25, 2021)

By Jim Kinney | jkinney@repub.com

WESTFIELD — Developers want to build a campus of 10 data center buildings on what’s now vacant land on the north side of the city totaling, after 12 to18 years of phased construction, a $2.7 billion investment with 2.74-million-square feet of space over 155 acres.

Construction, if the project is approved by the city and state, would begin in 2023 with the first building and all the necessary power connections. That building would be done in the middle of 2024. Plans call for the last of the buildings to be completed in 2038.

Customers for the project could include the industry’s “Big 5” — Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook — along with smaller lesser-known data companies, said Erik J. Bartone, the director of the company doing the development, called Servistar Realties LLC.

Electronically “mining” for bitcoin or other cryptocurrency is not in the plans right now, he said.

“There is a huge industry growth that is going on right now in telecommunications, data, data processing,” Bartone said. “A lot of it was recently driven, obviously by COVID-19. It is a major transformations in how commerce is being done in the United States and worldwide.”

His company was drawn to the site just west of Route 10 and 202, because it’s on a major Eversource high capacity power line and because of Westfield Gas & Electric, as the local power provider the complex would buy power on the wholesale market. The site also has gas for heating, hot water and to fire emergency backup power generation.

Westfield is also close to airports including Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and the corporate jet facilities at Westfield-Barnes-Regional Airport. The site is just 99 miles from Boston and in the middle of a a massive Northeastern market for data services with a population of 23 million people.

“Boston is an attractive address for corporate headquarters,” said Bartone, whose background is in electrical power brokering.

Bartone and his team are also impressed by the educational system in Westfield, with Westfield High School, Westfield Technical Academy and Westfield State University, as a source of employees.

There will be 400 permanent jobs at full build-out, he said. That’s 40 per building as the buildings are completed every few years. Salaries will average $100,000.

There will be 1,800 construction jobs for each of the data center buildings resulting in approximately 18,000 construction total jobs over the 12 to 18 years of construction.

The project would also recreate 1,200 spin off jobs in the community, Bartone said.

He couldn’t say Wednesday just how much of the $2.7 billion would be spent in the early phases. But he said the first building is relatively more expensive because it requires the power facilities that are not yet there. The site already has the Eversource line running though it.

“This company is going to spin off other companies and people are going to want to be close to this data center,” Mayor Donald Humason said. “We have to think scope This is not a small server farm. This is huge,” Humason said the city’s been negotiating with Bartone’s team since the spring. Bartone said he’s been evaluating the Westfield site for a year or longer.

He compared it to the $165 million Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center on Bigelow Street between Appleton and Cabot streets in Holyoke. That center, which opened in 2012 as a partnership among Harvard, the University of Massachusetts and other research universities.

“This project on Servicestar could be 10 of those,” he said. “But instead of serving universities, it could serve the whole Northeast. And it would be here in Westfield.”

And it’ll be without the traffic and environmental concerns that have stymied development efforts on the property in the past. Failed projects include a gas-fired power plant, a freezer warehouse and a Federal Express depot.

All done in because neighbors objected to truck traffic.

“This is what we’ve been looking for, Humason said. But its not a done deal yet.

Peter Miller, the city’s head of economic development, said project backers’ biggest challenge is environmental: designing the buildings around environmental concerns, habitat and wetlands setbacks.

But Humason said the developer’s advantage is that they are building 10 three-story buildings.

“It’s not one huge warehouse,” the mayor said. “There is flexibility.”

There is also the developer’s proposed tax deal with the city. Called a 121 A, it would be a 40-year abatement that would absolve Servistar Realties of personal property tax on the computer equipment.

But even under the agreement, Seristar Realties would pay about $1.3 million a year in taxes in the first few years, Miller said. That would make it the largest taxpayer in the city.

Over time, the taxes would average more than $8.5 million a year in payments over the 40-year term, and more than $11 million per year after the full buildout of the project, according to Servistar’s application.

That means at full buildout, this project would not only be the largest tax payer but the size of the three existing largest taxpayers combined, said Richard Sullivan, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts and a former Westfield mayor.

“It is going to be a significant number of good paying jobs. There are high-end jobs,” Sullivan said. “I think it is a development and an opportunity for a new sector in Western Massachusetts.”
Ward 1 Councilor Nicholas J. Morganelli represents the neighborhood. He said he’s hearing a lot of positive feedback. But some in the area are concerned about the loss of green space.

“There aren’t that many green spaces left. I hate to see farm fields developed. I wish there was another large, already paved-over space where we could put this,” he said. “But I guess the point is, there isn’t.”

Overdevelopment is a concern raised earlier this summer by the now-abandoned Carvana project in Southwick.

Bartone said energy costs are usually the biggest component in deciding a site for a facility like this. And historically, New England has been considered expensive,. But there’s a move to get data centers closer geographically to their customers, hence the need to be in the Northeast.

And the wholes purchase of power will help.

“That is our expertise,” he said.

Three are environmental components to the project. They are considering building with solar arrays that would generate some power. They are also evaluating the use of geothermal equipment to cool computer equipment. The buildings will likely have electric vehicle charging stations.

Bartone’s team plans to present its plan at an informational session for the Planning Board on Sept. 7. The tax deal has a City Council hearing set for Sept. 16.

Mixed-Income Housing Project at Ludlow Mills to Begin in 2022

BusinessWest (August 18, 2021)

With state financing now in place, construction is expected to begin in early 2022 on a $29.9 million project to transform the landmark Mill 8 at the historic Ludlow Mills complex into 95 mixed-income apartments for adults 55 and older and a center for supportive healthcare services, Westmass Area Development Corp. and WinnDevelopment announced.

The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development recently announced new tax credits and subsidies to support the next phase of the ambitious adaptive-reuse project, focusing on the section of the 116-year-old complex that contains the clock tower shown on the town’s seal. The Mill 8 project follows the successful transformation of Mill 10, which offers 75 units of mixed-income housing for adults 55 and older.

“There is a three to five-year wait for vacancies in the Residences at Mill 10, proving how vitally important it is to deliver additional quality apartment homes to seniors in and around Ludlow,” said Larry Curtis, president and managing partner of WinnDevelopment. “The continued support of the Baker-Polito administration was the last piece of the financing puzzle needed for us to begin the next phase of work to preserve and revive one of the town’s most treasured historic assets.”

Overseen by WinnDevelopment Senior Vice President Adam Stein and Senior Project Director Lauren Canepari, the project has received enthusiastic support from local, state, and federal officials representing Ludlow. The town has committed state and federal money for several key infrastructure improvements, including the ongoing construction of Riverside Drive and the addition of a wastewater pumping station for the area. In addition, the National Park Service has committed federal historic tax credits to the effort.

Support from the Baker-Polito administration includes federal and state low-income housing tax credits, as well as money from the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Housing Stabilization Fund, and HOME program.

“As Westmass continues its redevelopment of the Ludlow Mills, we are excited to see the long-awaited Mill 8 transformation begin. Westmass will also benefit from this as we will retain the majority of the first floor for commercial development.”

The 95 apartments to be built inside Mill 8 will cater to a wide range of incomes, offering 43 affordable units for rent at 60% of area median income (AMI), 40 market units, and 12 extremely low-income units available at 30% of AMI. The first phase of the project, the Residences at Mill 10, is 88% affordable.

“The cost of housing is one of the single greatest challenges facing our Commonwealth, and that challenge has been amplified dramatically by the pandemic,” state Sen. Eric Lesser said. “This development will be a welcome addition to Ludlow with 95 new affordable housing units. It will unlock opportunity and alleviate some pressure for housing access right here in Western Mass.”

Gov. Charlie Baker added that “projects like Mill 8 that bring mixed-unit, affordable housing to the community are an important part of the solution required to address the Commonwealth’s housing crisis, and our administration is proud to support them. Unlocking additional opportunities for community and economic development across the state will require more housing of all types in every corner of Massachusetts, and this project stands as an example of how we can continue making progress toward our goals.”

Mike Kennealy, secretary of Housing and Economic Development, argued that the Commonwealth’s housing crisis will be resolved only by the production of more housing — and through more projects like Mill 8. “Thanks to their many partners and the town of Ludlow, these new units will be specially designed for families of all incomes and with supportive services to help people stay in the community they call home.”

In addition to modern apartments, the project has partnered with WestMass Eldercare to create a 5,000-square- oot Adult Day Health Center inside the building that will provide on-site, enhanced supportive services to residents of Mill 8 and Mill 10, including nurse visits, a service coordinator, healthy-living programming, and transportation to the nearby Ludlow Senior Center.

“I am proud to see the public and private partnership between federal, state, and local government with Westmass Area Development Corp. and WinnDevelopment to breathe new life into the iconic Mill 8,” state Rep. Jake Oliveira said. “ As the project enters its next stage, I’m excited to see the clock tower mill building that adorns our town seal to finally become fully functional once again.”

The redeveloped property also will contain common area amenities, including on-site laundry facilities, on-site management, a fitness room, a resident lounge, and several outside recreation areas to serve future residents.

“Since Westmass began this project over 10 years ago, it has always been a priority to get Mill 8 redeveloped,” said Antonio Dos Santos, board chair of Westmass Area Development Corp. “This building has the marquee presence of the entire mill complex, and we are excited that the transformation of this iconic building will be getting underway soon.”

Nearly 43,000 square feet of space on the first floor of Mill 8 will be available for lease to local businesses.

“As Westmass continues its redevelopment of the Ludlow Mills, we are excited to see the long-awaited Mill 8 transformation begin. Westmass will also benefit from this as we will retain the majority of the first floor for commercial development,” said Jeff Daley, president and CEO of Westmass Area Development Corp. “As we pull together different uses in the mills complex, housing is one of the priorities, and we are excited to partner again with WinnDevelopment with the continued support of the Baker-Polito administration.”

The design and construction of Mill 8 will meet the standards of Enterprise Green Communities (EGC), an environmental certification program for affordable housing that includes milestones for water conservation, energy efficiency, healthy materials, and green operations and management.

More: BusinessWest

Ludlow Mills Clock Tower Building Soon to Be Home to 95 Apartments

MassLive (August 9, 2021) – The $29.9 million renovation of Mill 8 – the clock tower building depicted on the town seal – will begin early next year at the Ludlow Mills Complex on State Street.

WinnDevelopment will transform the 230,000-square-foot Mill 8 building into 95 mixed-income apartments for adults 55 and older and a center for supportive healthcare services.

More: MassLive

Request for Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) Services

Westmass is soliciting proposals from qualified environmental professionals (QEPs) to assist in brownfield cleanup activities at the historic Ludlow Mills complex. The selected QEP will be responsible for carrying out all necessary tasks outlined in the RFP. Westmass will be holding a mandatory site walk for all interested applicants on August 17th at the Ludlow Mills. Copies of the RFP can be provided by request by emailing info@westmassdevelopment.com

Westmass Helps Identify and Manage All Aspects of the Economic Development Process

NEREJ (May 28, 2021) – The Westmass Area Development Corporation (Westmass) is an experienced, private not-for-profit industrial and business development corporation created to promote and assist business growth in western Massachusetts. Westmass accomplishes these goals by developing properly zoned and fully permitted industrial park land resources and assisting organizations with development and redevelopment real estate opportunities at the crossroads of New England in the four western-most counties in Massachusetts.

Westmass has been successfully developing industrial and business park resources for more than 60 years and as a result today it has the most experienced and knowledgeable staff available to assist companies seeking a prime western Massachusetts business location. Westmass’ demonstrated record of success includes development of over 2,500 acres in 13 industrial parks and projects; enabling the build-out of over 12 million s/f of commercial space and residential units; leveraging $400 million in invested resources on our developments; and helping create over 10,000 jobs.

MORE: www.nerej.com

Westmass Strives to Become a More Impactful Force in Economic Development

BusinessWest (May 26, 2021) – The primary role of the Westmass Area Development Corp. — as the agency recently stressed in a letter to area stakeholders — is to “to manage the entire economic-development process — from conception to completion.” How it performs that role is changing and expanding, however — not just in its portfolio of development and property reuse, including its industrial parks and the ever-intriguing Ludlow Mills project, but as a valuable consultant for businesses and communities with a vision.

The letters, 150 of them, went out earlier this month.

They were sent to mayors, economic-development leaders, and other officials in communities across the four counties of Western Mass., dozens of area cities and towns, and served as introductions, invitations, and reminders all at the same time.

Officials in those communities were and are being invited to take full advantage of the talent and resources available at Westmass Area Development Corp. — the not-for-profit economic and real-estate development firm established in 1960 by state-enabling legislation — to help with a wide range of projects, from urban-renewal plans to environmental permitting; from complex site-related issues to specialized tax incentives.

The reminder part? Well, Westmass has been offering this kind of assistance to area communities almost from the start, but under the leadership of Jeff Daley, who took the helm at the agency in the summer of 2019, consulting work has become a much larger part of the business plan for the agency, which is promoting such services more heavily — and in a number of ways.

Like with those those letters, which quickly get to the heart of the matter.

MORE: www.businesswest.com

EPA Selects Six Projects in Massachusetts to Receive $3+ Million for Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment

EPA.GOV (May 13, 2021) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that six grantees in the state of Massachusetts have been selected to receive $3,011,510 to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program. These funds will support under-served and economically disadvantaged communities around the state in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. The Mass. grant award announcements are among 151 communities across the nation to receive 154 grant awards totaling $66.5 million in Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grants.

“Through our Brownfields Program, EPA is delivering on the Biden Administration’s commitment to lifting up and protecting overburdened communities across America, especially communities that have experienced long periods of disinvestment and decay,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These assessment and cleanup grants will not only support economic growth and job creation, but they will also empower communities to address the environmental, public health, and social issues associated with contaminated land.”

“These new EPA Brownfields funds are more important than ever, because the ongoing pandemic has impacted the economy and redevelopment throughout New England,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. “Today’s investment of EPA Brownfields assessment and cleanup funding provides a much-needed boost for economic development and job creation in many of New England’s hardest hit and underserved communities.”

MORE: www.epa.gov