Westmass has been selected by the EPA for a $1 million 2024 Brownfields Cleanup Grant

EPA (May 20, 2024)

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the Westmass Area Development Corporation for a Brownfields Cleanup Grant that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Grant funds will be used to clean up the Ludlow Mills #11, Ludlow Mills #9, and Warehouse #199 sites located at Riverside Drive and 100 State Street in the City of Ludlow. Mills 11 and 9 of the 52-acre cleanup site were formerly used for various manufacturing operations over the past 150 years to create textiles and jute, which were stored in the warehouse. The sites are contaminated with inorganic contaminants, heavy metals, PCBs, and hazardous substances. Grant funds also will be used to prepare a Community Involvement Plan and conduct community engagement activities.

Mill 11

Mill 9 & Warehouse 199

As part of this cleanup project, the buildings will be abated of all asbestos containing materials (ACM) and other hazardous materials. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach and engagement activities including the development of a Community Involvement Plan.

More: EPA

State Senator Jake Oliveira leads tour of Ludlow Mills

WWLP (April 30, 2024)

Kiara Smith, Emma McCorkindale

BELCHERTOWN – State Senator Jake Oliveira led a tour Tuesday for State Senate leadership highlighting his district and vital community issues.

One stop on Senator Oliveira’s tour, Ludlow Mills, which features renovated Grist Mill buildings. This area was previously the largest brownfield, or abandoned industrial land, in all of New England. For the senator, the revamping of these mills is personal.

“This mill complex has a special connection with my family’s history. It’s the reason why my family immigrated from Portugal and Poland at the beginning part of the twentieth century, in order to work in these very mills,” said State Senator Oliveira.

The renovated mills will include commercial space, as well as low-income and market price housing.

The last stop on the tour was Iron Duke Brewing, where they heard a presentation on healthcare in western Massachusetts.

More: WWLP

Great Day at the Springfield Thunderbirds Game with the Westmass Team 🏒

The Westmass team had a terrific time at the Springfield Thunderbirds hockey game yesterday! A big thank you to Jeff for making it happen (and for getting us the VIP suite) and a shout-out to our staff and their families for the amazing company. It’s always great to have fun outside the office. Go Thunderbirds! 🥅🎉


Westmass to Manage Nonprofit that Fixes Blighted Properties in Springfield

MassLive (December 27, 2023)

Jeanette DeForge | jdeforge@repub.com

Westmass Area Development Corp. takes over DevelopSpringfield

Jeff Daley, president and CEO Of Westmass Area Development Corp., speaks at a press conference Wednesday to announce WestMass will run DevelopSpringfield. In the middle is Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and on the right is Nick Fyntrilakis, chairman of DevelopSpringfield. (Don Treeger / The Republican) 

SPRINGFIELD – Westmass Area Development Corp. will take over work of a small nonprofit under a partnership designed to boost economic growth in the city.

The two organizations joined with Springfield officials Wednesday to announce that the struggling DevelopSpringfield organization will become a subsidiary of Westmass, which owns and operates industrial parks in the region and the Ludlow Mills mixed-use development project.

The announcement comes at a time when Springfield is looking to develop key properties, including the 17.5-acre Vibra Hospital property on State Street, a prime commercial property, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said.

“This continues to expand our economic development horizons,” he said.

DevelopSpringfield was created in 2008 to take on the worst cases of blighted buildings in the city. The group bought the River Inn, a hotbed of drug deals and prostitution on State Street, and turned it into a Pride station. In another project, it converted an aging church and vacant lot on Carew Street into a Baystate Health dialysis center.

The city knows developers can’t tackle projects that are financial losers, which is where DevelopSpringfield came in. The agency would acquire and prepare problem properties for redevelopment and sell them to businesses, returning them to the tax rolls, Sarno said.

The organization owns the Springfield Innovation Center, where the announcement took place, and the historic Merrick Phelps House at 83 Maple St., which was an eyesore converted into offices.

Westmass plans to put the Merrick Phelps House on the market. The building is being rented, as are a row of garages and a carriage house in the back, said Jeff Daley, president and chief executive officer of Westmass. The house was built in 1841 for Solymon Merrick, inventor of the monkey wrench.

Westmass Area Development Corp. takes over DevelopSpringfield

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno speaks at a press conference to announce the WestMass Area Development Corp.will now be running DevelopSpringfield. Jeff Daley, President and CEO Of Westmass Area Development Corp. is on the left. (Don Treeger / The Republican) 

The Springfield Innovation Center, on Bridge Street, serves as a business incubator and has one tenant. Westmass has experience managing similar buildings. It plans to make improvements to the building and seek new tenants, Daley said.

“It is a neat complex but it needs some maintenance and attention,” he said.

With no full-time staff, DevelopSpringfield has hired Westmass and other consultants when it needed help, said Nicolas A. Fyntrilakis, its chairman.

When Fyntrilakis approached Westmass about taking over management of DevelopSpringfield, Daley said he and his staff determined they have the capability of doing the work.

Officials see benefits in Westmass expanding into the region’s largest city, the main economic driver in Western Massachusetts.

Westmass Area Development Corp. takes over DevelopSpringfield

Jeff Daley, President and CEO Of Westmass Area Development Corp., speaks at a press conference to announce WestMass will now be running DevelopSpringfield. (Don Treeger / The Republican)

Tim Sheehan, chief development officer for the city, said he thinks Westmass will bring “a new vision to DevelopSpringfield and will enhance the work DevelopSpringfield has already accomplished by bringing forward new ideas, a talented development staff and a commitment to focusing on the development opportunities that are unique to Springfield as the largest city in Western Mass.”

More: MassLive

Westmass to Take Leadership Role with Develop Springfield

Springfield, MA (December 27, 2023)

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Chief Development Officer (CDO) Tim Sheehan are excited to announce that Westmass Area Development Corporation (Westmass) of Springfield, a major not-for-profit economic and real estate development firm, will be taking on the leadership role with Develop Springfield.

Found in 1960, Westmass is a leader in developing and managing exceptional properties in both the public and private sectors. Their innovative approach and team of professionals have helped transform various projects across Western Massachusetts, while enhancing and strengthen communities through their investments that create jobs, housing and other economic development opportunities.

Mayor Sarno states, “Under my new administration, we created Develop Springfield in 2008 as a nonprofit to put a direct focus on ‘Springfield first’ initiatives and to tackle difficult properties for redevelopment and repurposing aspects.”

“I want to thank CDO Tim Sheehan, Jeff Daley, President and CEO of Westmass, Chairman of the Board of Directors AJ Crane, and the entire team at Westmass for their continued belief and investment in our Springfield. Westmass is renowned for their innovative strategies and leadership in helping to advance economic development projects throughout Western Massachusetts that create more of that good four-letter word, jobs! With Westmass taking on the leadership role with Develop Springfield, I have the utmost confidence that this partnership will serve as the catalyst for the next positive step to grow and build upon the economic development projects and opportunities that Develop Springfield has already advanced,” said Mayor Sarno.

CDO Tim Sheehan stated, “Westmass will bring a new vision to Develop Springfield and will enhance the work Develop Springfield has already accomplished by bringing forward new ideas, a talented development staff and a commitment to focusing on the development opportunities that are unique to Springfield as the largest city in Western Mass.”

“With Westmass taking on the mission and operations of Develop Springfield, we are excited to assist the community of Springfield with some of its more challenging real estate development projects. Westmass has been implementing successful real estate development projects across Western Mass for over 60 years and we now look forward to bringing that expertise to Develop Springfield,” said AJ Crane, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Westmass Area Development Corp.

“I am excited to begin the projects that Develop Springfield currently has and projects we will take on in the coming years. While continuing to lead and develop projects with Westmass, I know we have the perfect team in place to transition that same work over to Develop Springfield. Springfield has a lot of opportunities for growth and success, and I am looking forward to leading Develop Springfield to be a catalyst developer for those successes!” said Jeff Daley, current President & CEO of Westmass Area Development Corporation and incoming President & CEO of Develop Springfield.

For original press release, click here: Press Release – Westmass to take Leadership Role with Develop Springfield 1.1.

Season’s Greetings from Westmass Area Development Corporation

Jeff LeSiege, left, and Jeff Daley stop by one of two large parking lots being created at Ludlow Mills.

The Puzzle Pieces Come Together At Ludlow Mills

BusinessWest (September 15, 2023)

George O’Brien 

Community Spotlight 

A.J. Crane acquired the ‘carpentry’ building at Ludlow Mills with the goal of having it redeveloped, with a restaurant being the preferred use. Staff Photo, BusinessWest

A.J. Crane acquired the ‘carpentry’ building at Ludlow Mills with the goal of having it redeveloped, with a restaurant being the preferred use. Staff Photo (BusinessWest)

As he led BusinessWest on a tour of what’s known as the ‘carpentry building’ at the Ludlow Mills complex, A.J. Crane walked up a deteriorated but still solid set of stairs to the second floor, and then to the row of new windows looking out on the Chicopee River, maybe 150 feet away, the riverwalk in front of it, and a stretch of land before the walk on which a patio could be built.

“Imagine the possibilities,” he said, adding that he certainly has, and that’s why he acquired the property from Westmass Area Development Corp., which purchased the mill in 2011, with the intention of renovating it and then leasing it out, perhaps to a restaurateur — the master plan for the mill complex calls for one at this location — although he doesn’t really know what the market will bear at this point.

What Crane, president of Chicopee-based A. Crane Construction Co. (and a Westmass board member) does know is that nothing can be built that close to the river today. Well, almost nothing; this property is grandfathered, so it can be developed. And that’s a big reason why he took on this risk — the property has been vacant for decades and needs a considerable amount of work for any reuse — and has invested heavily in its renovation.

But there’s another reason as well.

“I just wanted to be a part of this,” he said, waving his hand in a sweeping motion to encompass the sprawling mill in front of him.

‘This’ is the transformation of the mill complex, once home to a jute-manufacturing facility that employed thousands and played a huge role in the town’s development, into, well, a community within a community, one that is already home to residents and businesses of various kinds, and, perhaps someday, in the former carpentry shop, a restaurant.

This transformation is an ongoing process, one that was projected to take 20 years when Westmass acquired the property 12 years ago, and may take another 20 still, said Jeff Daley, president and CEO of Westmass, noting, as Crane did, that the pieces to the puzzle are coming together.

And as Daley and Jeff LeSiege, vice president of Facilities and Construction at Westmass, conducted a walking tour, they pointed to several of these pieces — from the ongoing renovation of the landmark ‘clocktower building’ (Building 8) into 95 apartments to the construction of two new parking lots; from extensive water, sewer, and electrical work to new businesses such as Movement Terrain, which boasts an obstacle course and an Astroturf arena (more on all this later).

Jeff LeSiege, left, and Jeff Daley stop by one of two large parking lots being created at Ludlow Mills.

Jeff LeSiege, left, and Jeff Daley stop by one of two large parking lots being created at Ludlow Mills. Staff Photo (BusinessWest)

Then there’s the clocktower itself, which is slated for renovation, said Daley, adding that he’s not sure when the last time the clock — which is on the town seal and the masthead of the local newspaper — worked, but “it’s been a very long time.”

Transformation of the mill, which has been well-chronicled by BusinessWest over the past dozen years, is the story in Ludlow. But not the only story.

Another is a possible charter change making the community a city and changing its form of government from the present Board of Selectmen to one of several options, including a town manager/Town Council format, a mayor/City Council alignment, or perhaps a mayor/manager/council arrangement.

The town has hired the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management to guide it through this process, said Town Administrator Marc Strange, adding that a charter-review committee will gather in the coming weeks and meet consistently for roughly a year, with a charter to be presented to town-meeting voters in October 2024, with a new form of government possible by the middle of 2025.

Meanwhile, there are some infrastructure projects moving forward, especially an ambitious streetscape-improvement plan for the East Street corridor, which leads into Ludlow Mills.

For this, the latest installment of its Community Spotlight series, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at Ludlow and its many developing stories.

No Run-of-the-Mill Project

Hanging on a wall on the ground floor of Ludlow’s Town Hall is a large aerial photograph of the section of town beside the Chicopee River, circa the 1920s.

Glancing at the image, the enormity of the mill complex — then even larger than it is today — comes clearly into focus, literally and figuratively.

The mills were, the many respects, the heartbeat of the community and an economic force, a supplier of jobs and vibrancy. And over the past several years, they have become that again, with new developments seemingly every year.

The latest, and most visible, of the latest developments is the ongoing renovation of the L-shaped clocktower building, including replacement of the hundreds of large windows that provided needed light for the mill workers.

Town Administrator Marc Strange says a change of government is needed in Ludlow. Staff Photo (BusinessWest)

The upper floors will be converted into nearly 100 apartments on the upper floors, with 48,000 square feet of space on the ground floor set aside for commercial development, Daley said, noting that this commercial space, to be built out to suit the needs of tenants, would be appropriate for a number of uses, including as home to support businesses for the growing number of people living in the mill as well as the surrounding area.

The apartments will be available for lease next July, he added, noting that there should be considerable demand for the units given both a regionwide housing crunch and a six-year waiting list for units in nearby Building 10, the first of the mill buildings to be redeveloped into housing.

Other developments at the mills include $2.1 million to replace water and sewer piping to connect to the two dozen old stockhouses on the property, all of which are sporting new roofs, he said, as well as construction of two new, and sorely needed, parking lots.

One of these lots, with 150 spaces, is nearing completion, with landscaping and other finishing touches to be completed, while the other, located across Riverside Drive from the carpentry building and expected to feature another 75 spaces, is in the early stages of construction.

“These parking facilities are for tenants and visitors alike,” Daley said, adding that parking is a critical need as more of the spaces within the complex are developed.

Meanwhile, work continues on the carpentry building, a 13,200-square-foot brick structure between Riverside Drive and the Chicopee River. Crane told BusinessWest it had probably been on the market for 20 years, and really came onto his radar screen four years ago.

He described it as a solid investment opportunity — albeit one requiring a large investment on his part — but also a chance, as he said, to be part of the larger story of the mill’s transformation into a community, and a destination.

“I couldn’t afford any of the larger buildings, so I bought a smaller building that I thought could be an important part of what we’re doing here,” he said. “It’s exciting to be part of this.”

Every day, he said, dozens of walkers, joggers, and runners on the riverwalk will stop and ask him about the building’s next life. He tells them he’s not sure, but he’s anxious to find out.

Crane said he has replaced the roof and is currently putting new windows in. When that work is completed, he will begin entertaining options to lease the property, with a restaurant certainly among those options.

“I’m open to … whatever,” he told BusinessWest. “I bought the building knowing you could never build that building again so close to the water.”

There are many spaces still to be developed, Daley said, including the massive (500,000 square feet) Mill 11, the largest building on the property, as well as the greenspace at the eastern end of the property given the informal name ‘the back 40’ (acres) and the formal name Millside Commercial Park. A MassWorks grant has been received to build a road and cul-de-sac through that property, and the project recently went to bid.

“That will open that back acreage for development, and we’re excited that this is moving forward as well,” he said, adding that he expects the road to be ready by June of next year.

Officially, there will be roughly 38 acres of land available to sell or lease, he went on, adding that there should be considerable demand.

“I think that, once it gets out on the street to bid, we’re going to get a lot of inquiries,” he said, noting that there will six different lots of varying sizes, including one large lot that can accommodate a 250,000-square-foot building. “I do know there is a great shortage of available land and available buildings at this time, and I think we’re going to have some good interest in the property.”

As for the preferred uses, Daley said manufacturing is at the top of that list due to the job-creation potential, but the market will ultimately determine what happens with that acreage.

“We’re certainly going to work to make sure it’s a good fit, not only to the mills, but to Ludlow,” he told BusinessWest. “We’re not just going to take anyone willing to buy it; it’s got to be a business development that fits the makeup of what we’re trying to accomplish at the mills.”

Progress Report

Strange came to Ludlow as town administrator in the spring of 2022, marking a course change for the former director of Planning and Development for Agawam and selectman in Longmeadow.

He told BusinessWest that he saw the position in Ludlow as an opportunity to take a leadership position in a community and use his various skill sets to effect change in this community of roughly 21,000 people.

“I love municipal government,” he said. “I know it sounds cliché, but it gives you a chance to impact people’s lives every day in a way that you can’t at the state level or the federal level. I just fell in love with that.

“I started thinking about opportunities to become a town manager or town administrator,” he went on, adding that he was a finalist for the same position in East Longmeadow when he was chosen as a finalist in Ludlow, and ultimately chose the latter.

“Ludow is a great fit for my personality and a great opportunity for growth, both for me and the town,” he went on, acknowledging that these are certainly intriguing times for the community, especially when it comes to a potential, and likely, change in the charter, something he believes is necessary, as well as the Ludlow Mills project and the many developments there.

“A change in government is much needed,” he said. “We’re no longer a town; we’re a 21,000-person city.”

And a growing one, he noted, adding that the mill project will continue to bring more new businesses and residents to the city, and vibrancy to that section in particular.

With that in mind, the town is blueprinting extensive infrastructure improvements to the East Street corridor, from the mills to Ludlow Country Club, Strange noted, and expanding its District Improvement Financing area, which is currently just the footprint of the mills, to East Street.

Conceptual plans are being prepared for the East Street area, he said, noting that one calls for a “modern, loud-colored concept,” one has a “more urban feel,” while another has more green infrastructure, with planters and a “more earthy feel.”

The various options will be presented to the Board of Selectmen, who will make the final decision, he said.

Overall, Ludlow is largely built out, with the notable exception of the mill complex, Strange said, adding that, moving forward, considerable energy is focused on improving what would be considered the downtown area — that section just over the Route 21 bridge connecting Ludlow with Indian Orchard — so it may better serve the growing number of residents in that area, and also perhaps serve as a destination.

“We’re focused on maximizing our downtown area, through development, through infrastructure improvements, through aesthetic improvements — however we can do it,” he said. “We do have a budding, or increasing, population of residents down at the mills; they have their condos and the riverwalk, but what kind of other amenities can we provide for them? That’s our focus and our goal right now.”

Bottom Line

As Daley noted, the clock in the famed tower hasn’t worked in a very long time.

Getting those hands to move again is one of many intriguing developments in this community, one, in many respects, whose time has come.

Original article available here.

Public and Private Partners Provide 2nd Phase of Investment in Mixed-Income Apartment Homes at Historic Ludlow Mill Complex

Made possible through public-private collaboration and support, WinnCompanies and Westmass are helping to ensure that Mill 8 not only becomes a vibrant mixed-income community for adults 55 and older but also will serve as a beacon of economic growth and sustainable development, bringing together past and future in a living testament to Ludlow’s rich history and brighter tomorrow.

Public and Private Partners Provide 2nd Phase of Investment in Mixed-Income Apartment Homes at Historic Ludlow Mill Complex

$2M purchase brings rehab of historic Ludlow Mills clock tower building closer

The clock tower building at Ludlow Mills, 50 State Street in Ludlow, was sold for $2 million and is being redeveloped by WinnDevelopment into 95 apartments. (Don Treeger / The Republican) 8/17/2023

MassLive (August 17, 2023)

Jim Kinney | jkinny@repub.com

LUDLOW – A long-awaited rehab of the emblematic clock tower building at the Ludlow Mills is closer to completion.

Westmass Area Development Corp. last month sold the upper floors of Building 8 to WinnDevelopment, which plans to build 95 apartments for people age 55 and older, a mix of low income, affordable housing and market-rate units.

“It’s going to change the whole complex,” said Jeff Daley, president & CEO of the Westmass. “To have that building restored and activated is going to be a real plus.”

Westmass, a not-for-profit economic and real estate development firm, will retain the 48,000 square feet of first floor commercial space at Building 8 – at 50 State St. – and lease it for business and office use. Possibly health care, possibly a sandwich and coffee place capitalizing on the increased number of people living and working in the sprawling mills property.

“We don’t know yet. We are starting to put together some marketing materials for it,” Daley said.

Move-in is about a year from now in July 2024. Daley estimated the project’s cost at $55 million. Some of the funding comes through 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.

And yes, WinnDevelopment’s plans include restoration of the clock to good working order, Daley said. The clock and tower are featured on the town seal and on high school class rings in Ludlow.

WinnDevelopment opened its Residences at Mill 10 next door in 2017 (also 55-and-older apartments) and in 2021 announced it had financing for Mill 8.

“(Mill 8) is going to be leased up incredibly quickly,” Daley said. “Mill 10 has a significant waiting list.”

The project was delayed due to increased construction costs, according to a WinnDevelopment spokesman.

Daley said Westmass was able to keep the project on track by allowing WinnDevelopment early access to begin construction before July’s real estate closing. Work began in early 2022 and many of the loft-style apartments are already framed out.

Elsewhere on the 130-acre Ludlow Mills complex, work continues on a $2 million parking project and a new water and sewer loop project also costing $2 million, Daley said. By the end of summer 2024, Westmass will have completed a $3.1 million road project that opens up 40 acres on the eastern end of the project to development.

“We’ve got a lot of projects going on there this summer. It’s definitely changing the face of the mills to a more modern facility, rather than live with 100-year-old utilities and fields for parking,” he said.

Westmass Development will go to the town in the fall for permission to demolish an old warehouse building – called the 300s – which is impossible to remodel with low 6-foot, 6-inch ceilings made of concrete and no utilities.

Daley expected demolition the next year, which will open up the building behind the warehouse for development.

He estimated that close to all of the first-floor space in the complex is occupied, including Iron Duke Brewing, which recently bought one of the one-story warehouses, called stock houses, on the site to expand.

A new business on the property is called Movement Terrain Youth Athletics, an indoor obstacle course attraction for families.

Much of the complex is occupied by small business, manufacturers and fabricators and workshops, as well as storage for contractors.

Westmass bought the mill complex in 2011 and began redevelopment.

Founded in 1868, Ludlow Manufacturing and Sales Co. made cloth, rope and twine out of Indian-grown jute, flax and hemp, drawing Portuguese and Polish immigrants to the town.

At its height, the mills had about 4,000 employees, many of them children.

But the Great War disrupted the supply of jute fiber from India so the company decided to open a mill there instead and started shifting production overseas.

More: MassLive

Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, Ed Augustus, visits the Ludlow Mills

Westmass extends its gratitude to Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, Ed Augustus, for his visit to the Ludlow Mills yesterday, recognizing his unwavering dedication in addressing Massachusetts’ housing challenges. Secretary Augustus had the opportunity to witness firsthand the progress of the Ludlow Mills Redevelopment project, including the successful completion of Mill 10, ongoing development at Mill 8 (pictured here), and the promising future plans for Mill 11. His support in converting historic mill properties into housing showcases a deep commitment to preserving the state’s rich heritage while addressing the critical need for affordable and accessible housing.

Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, Ed Augustus, visits the Ludlow Mills on July 13, 2023. Pictured left to right are Dana Angelo (Vice President of Development, WinnDevelopment), Jeff Daley (President/CEO, Westmass), Ed Augustus, and Larry Curtis (President, WinnDevelopment)