The largest brownfield mill redevelopment project in New England, in Ludlow Massachusetts, has been designated a priority project by Massachusetts state officials. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
Massachusetts Lt Gov Timothy Murray recently added five new projects to the state’s Brownfields Support Team Initiative. Ludlow Mills is the only project in western Massachusetts to be designated for the cleanup assistance in this latest round.
Ludlow Mills is a sprawling former textile mill complex along 1.5 miles of the Chicopee River. It consists of more than 60 buildings on 170 acres. The site has environmental cleanup needs that must be addressed before a further redevelopment can proceed.
The brownfields support team consists of representatives from some two dozen state, federal and local agencies that work to tackle complex cleanup and redevelopment projects.
Lt Governor Murray said that since the initiative was launched in 2008, more than $18 million dollars has gone to clean up and reuse more than 300 acres of property in the state for community and economic development.
The contaminated Chapman Valve property in Springfield was cleaned up and is now a solar power generating facility operated by Western Massachusetts Electric Company. Another project undertaken by the brownfields support team is the former Facemate textile mill in Chicopee, where a senior center is going to be built next year.
A private non-profit development corporation has advanced a plan to redevelop the entire Ludlow Mills site over the course of the next 15 to 20 years. Ground was broken last summer for a new $27 million dollar rehabilitation hospital at the site. There are plans for a $20 million, 83 unit senior housing complex.
Aaron Saunders, a member of Ludlow’s board of selectmen, said the redevelopment will mean jobs and added tax revenue for the town.
The enthusiasm for the project is shared by the local business community, according to Lou Curto, president of the East of River Chamber of Commerce.
The Ludlow Mills opened in 1907 and once employed 4,000 people. Redevelopment is projected to create or retain 2000 jobs and stimulate $300 million in private investment.