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.

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