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 |

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)

Westmass has been selected by the EPA for a 2023 Brownfields Cleanup Grant

EPA (May 25, 2023)

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected 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 300 Series Warehouse Buildings and Mill Buildings 46 and 58, which are part of the 52-acre Ludlow Mills Complex at 100 State Street in the Town of Ludlow. The 300 Series Warehouse Buildings were used to store manufactured jute before it was shipped off the property and are currently vacant except for the first floor. Mill Buildings 46 and 58 were used to house locomotive engines and as a machine and maintenance shop supporting the historic rail system within the complex and are currently vacant.

300 Series Warehouse

Buildings 46 & 58

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

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.