New Bedford Redevelopment “Success Story”

Channel 10 News visited New Bedford’s new Riverside Landing site to discuss a New Bedford “Success Story.”

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Fairhaven Mills Project Coming into Focus
New Bedford Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD — If all pieces fall in place on an optimistic schedule of developers and public officials, by summer 2010 shoppers will be filling carts in a new Riverside Landing retail and mixed-use center where Fairhaven Mills used to stand.
Not long after, people will eat in restaurants and work in offices there, and motorists will wheel off and on new Interstate 195 ramps crossing an extensively upgraded Coggeshall Street with traffic lights and turning lanes.
But even before shoppers arrive, rowers and other small boaters may take to the Acushnet River from a future boathouse site at the end of Sawyer Street. Use of the river above Coggeshall Street by rowers and other boaters is expected to begin this summer.
Long-delayed and much-debated, the redevelopment of the Fairhaven Mills site is moving. Officials say demolition could start in May and construction by June.
Last week, the development team of Dickinson Development Corp. of Quincy and D.W. White Construction Inc. of Acushnet gained approval from the New Bedford Historical Commission to tear down the last remaining large mill building at 85 Coggeshall St. — known as building No. 4 — and three smaller buildings behind it. The vote is advisory. Final determination of whether the buildings can be demolished without delay rests with City Council, scheduled to take it up this month.
The council can opt for up to a 12-month delay, after which the buildings would come down. Most councilors are believed in favor of no demolition delay.
In the meantime, developers Mark C. Dickinson and Mark White will go to the Planning Board Wednesday with a preliminary plan for the approximately 150,000-square-foot Riverside Landing project that would include retail, commercial and office space. The project also is to be reviewed by the Conservation Commission.
Expected to cost $35 million, the project has been a high priority of Mayor Scott W. Lang.
City officials believe it will serve as a “gateway” to the city, help drive development in the North End and in the Hicks-Logan-Sawyer District. Riverside Landing would be built on 14 acres north of Coggeshall Street. Officials and developers are touting the project as a jobs creator and tax generator.
The plan includes a north-south “spine road” to access the site on Coggeshall Street from the Interstate 195 ramps and carry traffic to Sawyer Street. Its purpose, in addition to getting cars to Riverside Landing, is to open up the site north of Fairhaven Mills where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is operating a Superfund site. City officials believe the EPA site can be reused soon to complement Riverside Landing and nearby Riverside Park.
Riverside Landing is intended to have significant green space and provide greater access to the river. Besides the boathouse, the city has proposed a walkway that would begin at Riverside Landing and go north for thousands of feet. Dickinson Development will contribute $100,000 toward the boathouse.
Dickinson said Friday that he and White believe they need to keep a sense of urgency to have the project move on an aggressive schedule.
“We believe it may be the only private project of any substance breaking ground this year” in the area.
“It is important to New Bedford,” he said, “and we are hoping to get it through the permitting quickly. We know we have to be accountable, and there has been a lot of cooperation” with city and state officials on infrastructure and other aspects of development.
Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said Friday, “The project is moving quickly because of a broad collaboration by the Lang administration and the Patrick administration. We want to create jobs and generate tax revenue. It is our expectation Phase 1 will be completed by next summer. The overall site will be transformed in Phase 1.”
There are three phases planned: Phase 1 is the large retail space and preparation for the boathouse along with all infrastructure on the site and road work related to the site; Phase 2 is the mixed building(s) and boathouse; and Phase 3 will be the building pads for restaurant(s) and bank.
A large part of the public road work will be funded by a grant from the state under Gov. Deval Patrick’s “Growth District” initiative. The governor already has announced a $1.3 million grant, and additional state funds likely would be used.
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March 09, 2009
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