Cliftex II proposal to go before New Bedford's zoning board

By Dan McDonald
NEW BEDFORD – The Quincy-based developer who has already turned two of the city’s large and antiquated mills into apartments is eyeing a third.
Stephen Ricciardi, president of Acorn Management, wants to turn the 276,000-square-foot brick mill edifice located on the banks of the Acushnet River and off Riverside Avenue in the North End into 140 market-rate housing units. The building is commonly referred to as Cliftex II.
On May 11, the city’s Planning Board approved the project’s site plans. Ricciardi still needs a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. That board will consider the matter Thursday.
The developer expects construction to take 18 months and cost $18 million, according to documents on file in the city’s Planning Department.
Last month, Ricciardi opened Victoria Riverside Townhouse Lofts, which is housed in an 1896 textile mill formerly known as Whitman Mill No. 2.
That 10 Manomet St. building, which is also located along the banks of the Acushnet in the North End, is now home to 100 historic market-rate rental apartments.
Ricciardi was also the driving force behind The Lofts at Wamsutta, another restoration project that yielded 250 residential apartments. That project was in the Hicks-Logan-Sawyer area just east of Route 18 and just south of Interstate 195. Tenants began moving into that building in the fall of 2008.
“I think he has a proven formula,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang of Ricciardi on Monday.
Ricciardi did not return a phone call Monday.
The Cambridge-based Boston Common Investments LLC, according to documents on file at the city’s Planning Department, owns the Cliftex II property. They bought it from Belleville Realty Corp. in March 2010 for $1.1 million.
The four-story riverfront building is estimated to be around 108 years old.
For decades it was home to a Cliftex clothing manufacturing operation, said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. Morrissey said suits were made there.
Most recently, it was home to Precix Inc., a rubber compound manufacturer that makes items such as o-rings, said Morrissey.
That company consolidated its operation in the city and the mill has been vacant for about a year and a half, he said.
The plans call for the brick facade to be cleaned and repointed and new windows. It also calls for 280 parking spaces.
Ward 2 City Councilor Steven Martins said the Cliftex II project should turn that strip of land alongside the Acushnet into more of a neighborhood.
Ricciardi, said Martins, “is seeing that the North End has potential for growth.”
Ricciardi’s project is next door to another Cliftex rehabilitation. Boston-based Winn Development wants to develop the property next door – commonly referred to as Cliftex I – into 55-plus housing. That developer is awaiting historical tax credits, said Martins.
Ricciardi, said Martins, “is looking to work with Winn Development” to make sure both buildings have a similar exterior look.
May 17, 2011 12:00 AM
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