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Deerfield grain plant to become innovators’ mill

Recorder/Farnz
Phil Nash is hoping to turn his old grain building at the East Deerfield RR yard in incubator space for small businesses and artists.

Recorder/Farnz Phil Nash is hoping to turn his old grain building at the East Deerfield RR yard in incubator space for small businesses and artists. Purchase photo reprints »

In one year a brewery may make malt, an artist may craft sculptures and farmers might store crops within a 40,000-square-foot business complex beside the East Deerfield Railyard.

Phil Nash, originally from Amherst, is bringing the 6.7-acre former grain plant at 6 Railroad Yard Road back to life and turning it into the Deerfield Innovators Mill.

Nash’s plan is to turn the site into 20,000 square feet of warehouse space and 20,000 square feet of finished space for offices stretching up to five stories.

“It’s a business model in that a guy can start off with a small 20-by-20-foot space rather than renting a stand-alone facility,” Nash said Deerfield Innovators Mill will take the place of the grain plant, where local farmers bought grain and feed for 50 years.

Six years ago, Nash bought the then-abandoned grain plant and turned it into a facility that bagged wood pellets railed in from Canada and used as for fuel for stoves. As the economy worsened, the cost to produce a bag of wood pellets increased and their value decreased, which prompted Nash to leave the stove pellet business.

On Tuesday, the mill turned 60 years old and for its next life, Nash envisions “infinite possibilities.” Possible tenants might be a light manufacturing, machine shop, contractors, brewery, bakery, small office, artists, dance/yoga studio with views of the working rail yard. He hopes to have five to six studio offices per floor, which could amount to 10 to 30 businesses using the space.

Over the next year, at a cost of $1 million, Nash will gut the mill by removing grain bins, replacing them with floors and clearing out the grain.

— KATHLEEN McKIERNAN

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