Posted Jun 16, 2017 at 7:04 PM
NEW BEDFORD — The Cove Walk in the South End has a new neighbor.
Jacinta Murphy bought the 500,000-square-foot mill that houses New Bedford Antiques at the Cove among about 60 businesses in the unit on May 30 for $1.5 million.
“We are thrilled to commence much needed capital improvements to the building to obtain additional rental tenants and plan for new future users for this excellently situated water-view property,” Murphy, principal of the company said in a statement.
About half the mill is occupied, leaving about 250,000 square feet to work as a canvas for J. Murray & Sons Construction’s vision.
“They’ve always looked at NB as an opportunity. We do a lot of stuff around Boston. I grew up in Somerville. New Bedford reminds me of Somerville 15 years ago,” Jim Murray, owner of J. Murray & Sons. “There’s a lot of good things happening.”
Peter Andrade, who worked as the property manager for the previous owners, accepted the same role with the new organization.
Andrade has managed the property for 30 years and said the Lefkowitz family purchased the building in the 1950s. After decades of dedication, a change was needed.
“The building needed a transition of ownership and to bring new ideas and fresh perspective,” Andrade said. “That’s what we’ve gotten with the new ownership. It’s like a breath of fresh air.”
The immediate future for the 107-year-old mill will include new windows and roofing, which will include solar panels.
“I’ve been around many places,” said Luis Villanueva, owner of Colo-Colo art gallery. “I think it’s going in the right direction.”
Villanueva, who moved his art studio from downtown to the South End about four years ago, said his rent hasn’t increased and he’s excited to remain at the mill to witness the changes.
One idea he’s heard floated around is a coffee shop on the third floor overlooking Clark’s Cove.
The idea excites Andrade, too.
“There’s tremendous potential regarding occupancy and just going forward with little shops and possibly a cafe,” Andrade said. “There’s’ so many ways to use the building.”
For now, the owners hope small businesses and shops will be attracted to the vacant spaces. Eventually, Andrade envisions residential properties consuming some of the space.
“Probably long term,” Andrade said. “Realistically, I think ultimately, the mill at some point in time in the far future will be developed into residential properties.”
Murray guessed the earliest residential units could reach the building would be 15 years.
The announcement of the property followed a Developer’s Tour hosted by the city on Tuesday.
Mayor Jon Mitchell welcomed investors as Derek Santos, the executive director of the Economic Development Council, led tours throughout the city of available properties, including multiple in the South End.
While this mill was already off the market during the tour, Santos drew a line toward the northern part of the city, specifically the development of the Wamsutta Loft to the Riverbank Lofts.
“I think this could be the beginning of the same type of investment spark that we saw in the upper harbor,” Santos said.
Contact Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.