Easthampton lands grant to boost redevelopment of Ferry Street mill; $45M project in works

  • Secretary Jay Ash was joined by Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and other city officials for the announcement of a $3.5 million MassWorks grant for the Ferry Street Mill Improvement Project on Friday.  —COURTESY OF ALAN WOLF

  • An architect’s conceptual rendering of the plans for the Ferry Street Mill Improvement Project.  R LEVESQUE ASSOCIATES

Staff Writer 
Published: 11/2/2018 6:34:08 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A proposed $45 million redevelopment of the century-old mill buildings at 1 Ferry St. to include 152 housing units got a $3.5 million boost on Friday.

The grant from the state’s MassWorks Infrastructure Program will be used to fund improvements to utility connections, alleviate traffic issues with road upgrades, and create access ways to the Lower Mill Pond and Manhan Rail Trail.

“This is an easy one for us — a great application, great project, and lots of local support,” Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash said Friday when he met with city officials at the Mill 180 Park on Pleasant Street to announce the funding. “This award is about bi-partisanship, collaboration and partnership. But this is also a reward for all of you for having the courage to say you want something better for the city and getting involved and making it happen.”

The $3.5 million grant to Easthampton is one of more than 40 projects throughout the state awarded by Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration’s 2018 round of MassWorks grants that totals more than $82 million.

“We are a city that is going forward and very cognizant of where we come from,” Mayor LaChapelle said at the announcement at the indoor park. “We have attempted over two decades to get it done and today it’s getting done.”

Plans for the Ferry Street Mill Improvement project call for a $45 million redevelopment to the 310,000-square-foot mill complex by developer Michael Michon were submitted to city’s Planning Board on Oct. 9. Michon owns and developed Mill 180.

The grant will pay for utility connections necessary for the 152 units of housing in the proposed mix-used development. The grant will also be used for a new roundabout at the intersection of Pleasant, Lovefield and Ferry streets, according to the special permit application.

“It’s a great team effort for a public-private venture,” Michon said at the announcement event. “It’s a long-term project, a five- to 10-year duration, and we are looking to get going.”

In addition to apartments and condominiums, the plan also calls for an abundance of office space, fitness club, massage and yoga space and rooftop photovoltaic system.

Michon said he’s wanted to move ahead on the redevelopment for two years, but recent actions taken by the City Council allowed him to move forward.

“We are thrilled,” Easthampton City Planner Jeffrey Bagg said in a statement. “This project will be transformative and will begin to complete the full vision of the mill district.”

“It will provide us with more housing units than were produced in the past five years and will revitalize a site of great significance for the city with a good balance of private development and public access,” Bagg said.

In July, the City Council created the Ferry Street Development District, which designated the area as a District Improvement Financing (DIF) district.

A DIF is an economic tool that municipalities can use to tax revenues generated as the property gains value to pay off infrastructure construction debts. It was also required for Easthamtpon to apply for the MassWorks grant.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com

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