After sitting vacant for over a decade, an historic mill on the waterfront is getting a new life as a commercial shipyard.
At the beginning of this month, Shoreline Resources, LLC purchased the 14-acre Revere Copper Products property on North Front Street for $50,000, according to documents in the Registry of Deeds.
The property, long known as Revere Copper and Brass, had a 147-year history of rolling sheet copper, fashioning brass nautical fittings, and even producing war materials at critical points in history, as previously reported by The Standard-Times, before the plant was shuttered in 2008.
After that, many suggestions were floated for the property — including a shopping mall, residences like Lofts at Wamsutta Place, and a casino — but none came to fruition.
There are a few potential reasons it could have sold now for what seems like a low cost for waterfront property, according to former city assessor Peter Barney.
Those reasons include that with yearly taxes between $40,000- $60,000 it was costing the former owners too much to maintain the empty industrial structure; the layout of the buildings are too industrial to be made into apartments; and any potential buyer would have to factor in the cost of cleaning and developing it, he said.
The new owners of the property saw what the site could be, though.
“We saw the site come up a few years back and we saw the potential with it,” said Michael Quinn who runs Shoreline Resources with his father Charlie.
The Quinns have their own long history with the city and its port.
“We’ve been in the commercial fishing industry for 30 years,” Michael said.
Currently the father and son own Quinn Fisheries, which has six commercial fishing vessels; Standard Marine Outfitters, a vessel supply company; and East Coast Fabrication, a ship repair company.
They have run the latter company for over a decade and saw the Revere site as an opportunity to expand on it, according to Michael.
“We only do retrofits now (at East Coast Fabrication), we don’t have the space to build,” Michael said.
That’s where the new site comes in. They plan on turning it into a commercial shipyard, Michael said, and their long-term goal is to build new commercial vessels and barges.
One of the reasons the site was attractive to the Quinns was because of the city’s harbor dredging project.
“We’ve been looking at the Phase Five project for a few years now and see it as a good opportunity to reactivate the site,” said Michael.
That was the goal of the harbor dredging project, according to Executive Director of the Port of New Bedford Edward Anthes-Washburn.
“The whole point of the planning we’ve done is to activate the parts of the waterfront that aren’t doing much,” said Anthes-Washburn, noting that included the Revere Copper property.
Anthes-Washburn said the city, with around 350 vessels that list it as their homeport, will benefit from the proposed shipyard.
“Having an expanded ability to work on the fishing vessels that call the port home is going to be great for the port,” Anthes-Washburn said.
Mayor Jon Mitchell agreed, “Establishing a shipyard at this site gives the port an increased capacity to service the fishing industry, the offshore wind industry, and others.”
In addition to attracting the Quinns, Mitchell said the dredging that will take place in the next few years will open the port to more business activities.
Both Mitchell and Anthes-Washburn said the shipyard will create jobs.
“When Revere closed that plant there was still a large number of people working there and although this site won’t be as large a direct employer it will allow other businesses to operate here who in turn will employee a significant number of people,” Mitchell said.
Before they start hiring a potential 20-50 employees (including welders, carpenters, and mechanics), Shoreline Resources has to start construction, which Michael said they plan on doing right away.
Construction will involve demolishing a few of the buildings on the waterside to create a few areas for the vessels, according to Michael Quinn, but they won’t be taking down the buildings on the roadside.
“We’re probably taking down two acres worth of buildings,” said Michael about the 14-acre site which has a total of eight buildings.
Mitchell said he’s had “some very constructive discussions” with the Quinns about preserving the buildings on the site that have the highest historical significance.
“There’s a lot of historical value to the site which is another reason our family wanted to take it on,” Quinn said. “We come from New Bedford and want to see the site reactivated and not go to waste.”
The construction plan for the site will take three to five years to complete, according to Michael, and they’ve been working closely with the city and other institutions to get the process underway.
Original story here.