Baystate Health taps a developer to advance possible reuse of shuttered Ware hospital

MassLive (March 27, 2023)

Jim Kinney |

WARE – The future of a landmark property in Ware is a little clearer.

A regional developer has been tapped to help Baystate Health Systems think through possible reuse of the former Baystate Mary Lane Hospital property at 85 South St.

The move comes as the town itself begins to solicit public opinion on redevelopment of the site.

Westmass Area Development Corp. will work with Baystate to decommission the old hospital.

“I think Westmass would have an interest in redeveloping it,” said Jeff Daley, the group’s president and CEO. “What they need is speculative at this point. As of now, it’s a little early to tell.”

The town, meantime, hired HKT Architects of Charlestown with a $70,000 state grant to prepare conceptual drawings, do engineering work and host public meetings about the potential reuse of the site, said Stuart Beckley, the Ware town manager. The meetings will begin in May. No dates have been set.

“It’s right next to a new senior housing complex,” Beckley said. “It would be great for mixed-use, housing, recreational fields.

At 21 acres, the property slopes down from busy South Street to the banks of the Ware River. It has five buildings, the largest of which is 131,000 square feet. The oldest parts of the complex date back to about 1914, according to town records. The town has it assessed at $12 million.

Baystate Health announced in January 2021 its planned to close Mary Lane – which by then was an outpatient center only, saying at the time the complex needed about $5 million in upgrades.

Baystate closed inpatient units at Mary Lane in 2016. Baystate bought former competitor Wing Memorial Hospital from the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester in 2013.

Baystate said just 28 patients per day were seeking care at Mary Lane’s emergency room. And of those, over 85 percent arrived with minor, non-urgent conditions that could be treated in a primary care setting

In 2021, Baystate had about 80 employees at Mary Lane. They all had the opportunity to get new positions within the 12,000-person Baystate workforce.

The shutdown was to happen over two years, with the emergency room the first to go dark. That happened in June 2021. Baystate shifted most patients and services to Baystate Wing in Palmer, nine miles away.

Oncology was relocated to the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care in Springfield.

As of Monday, Baystate said it has just a few departments with offices on the Mary Lane site: radiology, a laboratory and obstetrics and gynecology.

Daley said Baystate is building out new offices for those departments at Wing and they should all move by the end of this year.

In a news release Monday, Baystate said it and Westmass have told the town their timelines for abatement work in some of the vacant buildings — and will submit a permit later this month for the demolition of some buildings.

The demolition permit process in the town of Ware can take up to nine months for final approval, so demolition probably wouldn’t happen before early 2024.

But not all the buildings may be demolished, Daley said.

“We are looking at adaptive reuse,” he said. “If there is a way to reuse these buildings in a new development, we will.”

It’s similar, Daley said, to Ludlow Mills, Westmass Development Corp.’s $140-million-plus ongoing redevelopment of a 130-acre industrial site with 50 historic mill buildings totaling 1.1 million square feet of space.

“We are there (in Ludlow) abating hazards and demolishing unusable buildings while doing adaptive reuse,” Daley said. “I think there is an opportunity. … Ware is a small community. But there is an opportunity to do something nice.”

More: MassLive

Westmass hires Sean O’Donnell as its new Community Development & Planning Coordinator


Westmass is excited to announce Sean O’Donnell as our new Community Development & Planning Coordinator. In this new role, Sean will connect communities throughout Western Massachusetts with the expertise of Westmass staff to advance economic development projects both small and large.

Sean is a land use planner with more than 7 years of experience in local and regional planning, with a concentrated focus in the areas of economic development, mill redevelopment and adaptive reuse. In his previous role at Westmass, Sean was sometimes known as the “Mayor of Millville” and was responsible for overseeing tenant relations with the nearly 30 businesses at the Ludlow Mills historic complex, coordinating maintenance and tenant improvement projects, as well as assisting in managing all redevelopment activities and projects at the site.

Sean has also worked as Planner at both the Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC) in Keene, NH and the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) in Leominster, MA. In these roles, Sean led a wide range of planning projects and initiatives including the preparation of community planning documents including strategic plans, master plans, housing production plans, and urban renewal plans. He is also experienced in grant writing and administration; collecting, analyzing and graphically representing local and regional data; providing local technical assistance to municipalities to help meet their planning and economic development goals; and community engagement.

To connect with Sean and learn more about Westmass’ development services, send him an email at

BusinessTalk With Jeff Daley, President And CEO Of Westmass Area Development Corp.

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien has a lively discussion with Jeff Daley, president and CEO of Westmass Area Development Corp. about the agency’s most ambitious, project to date, redevelopment of the massive Ludlow Mills complex. Daley recounts the latest developments and talks about how the project has turned a critical corner. It’s all must listening, so join us for BusinessTalk, a podcast presented by BusinessWest  and sponsored by PeoplesBank.

Listen here:


Ludlow Mills gets $650,000 for site readiness as work poised to begin at clocktower building

Jeff Daley, President and CEO of Westmass Development Corporation receives a $650,000 Site Readiness Grant Award during a visit to the Ludlow Mills by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Mike Kennealy, Dan Rivera, President and CEO of MassDevelopment (pictured far left), Ludlow Board of Selectmen Chairman William Rosenblum (second from left), Representative Jake Oliveira (second from right), and Joel Mcauliffe, Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Eric Lesser (far right).

MassLive (December 14, 2021)

By Jim Kinney |

LUDLOW — The state and MassDevelopment granted $650,000 Tuesday to Westmass Development Corp. so it can begin planning and design work on four projects at its Ludlow Mills complex. The money will pay for the planning and design of a road to the back of the property that will make a 40-acre portion of the 130-acre property accessible and developable, said Jeff Daley, president and CEO of Westmass. The other three projects will be new stormwater drainage around the complex’ historic stockhouses, design work on four parking lots and a plan for rerouting the complex’s electrical service so it no longer passes through one of the old mill buildings.

“All the underground work that nobody sees, but it unlocks so much more investment,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at an announcement hosted Tuesday at the complex’s Residences at Mill 10.

Polito was joined by Housing and Economic Development secretary Mike Kennealy and MassDevelopment president and CEO Dan Rivera. MassDevelopment is the state’s economic development finance agency and land bank.

WinnDevelopment opened Residences at Mill 10 in 2017. The $20 million redevelopment project features 75 units of mixed-income, age-restricted housing.

Next month, WinnDevelopment plans to close on financing for its reconstruction of the 230,000-square-foot Mill 8 building into 95 mixed-income apartments for adults 55 and older and a center for supportive health care services. Construction will begin in 2022 on what is expected to be a $30 million project, said Lauren M. Canepari, senior project developer for WinnDevelopment.

She said work will include refurbishing the famous clock tower and could include getting the clock to tell time accurately again, she said. During his remarks, state Rep. Jacob Oliveira, D-Ludlow, said he’s 35 years old and has never seen the clock, a symbol for the town, tell time.

But the complex is more than a symbol, Oliveira said. Generations of immigrants, like his Portuguese and Polish forebears, came to work in the Ludlow jute mills. The complex once employed more than 5,000 people making jute yarn, twine and webbing before business started to shrink during World War I, when the factory couldn’t get the raw material from India.

The 120-year Ludlow Mills Complex includes 50 mill buildings and 1.1 million square feet of space. It’s the largest brownfield mill redevelopment in New England, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Westmass bought the property in 2011 and its other improvements include the River Walk along the Chicopee River, a senior center, a rehab facility, refurbished light industrial space and leaseholder Iron Duke Brewing. Daley said ground-floor space in the complex is 80% to 90% percent leased. Work is nearly complete on Riverside Drive, a new road in part of the complex.

In November at an event in Gardner, MassDevelopment announced a different grant for Ludlow Mills. Westmass Development Corp. got $250,000 to improve the historic stockhouses — approximately 22 one-story, 6,000-square-foot warehouses that now house small manufacturers, entrepreneurial startups and other businesses.

On Tuesday, MassDevelopment announced a total of nine other site readiness grants totaling $2.8 million.

The only other one in Western Massachusetts was $600,000 to design and plan for the possible redevelopment of the International Paper Mill on 50 acres on the Millers River in Erving. The town of Erving, which owns the property, plans to demolish five sub-buildings to eliminate safety hazards, making the property more attractive for redevelopment and creating space for a proposed access road. Site readiness funds will support planning work to better position the property for redevelopment and partially fund the demolition work contingent upon the town securing additional funding, MassDevelopment said.

Please see MassLive for the original article.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $250,000 Underutilized Property Program Award for the Ludlow Mills

On November 30th, the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDevelopment announced the first-ever awards made through the Underutilized Properties Program, which along with MassWorks is now part of the Community One Stop for Growth platform. The Underutilized Properties Program was created through the Economic Development Legislation signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in January 2021. The program targets underutilized, abandoned, or vacant properties by supporting efforts that eliminate blight, increase housing production, support economic development projects, or increase the number of commercial buildings accessible to individuals with disabilities.

In its first year, the program is funding 20 projects, totaling $7,516,000 in awards. Included among the 20 awards, Westmass received $250,000 for capital improvements to the historic stockhouses within the Ludlow Mills. The stockhouses include approximately 22 one-story, 6,000-square-foot buildings that house small manufacturing businesses, entrepreneurial startups, and other unique entities; the critical capital improvements funded by this grant will make 10 of these buildings more viable for existing and future tenants.

“This inaugural round of grants will breathe life into 20 underused buildings,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “The Underutilized Properties Program is making a difference in downtowns and town centers across Massachusetts. This $7.5 million in awards will fund capital improvements and predevelopment work to increase occupancy in challenging properties, creating new opportunities for housing, retail, and further economic development.”

Full press release available here.

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

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 |

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.