Victoria Riverside lofts: developer has plans for nearby Cliftex building

By Dan McDonald
NEW BEDFORD – After $13 million worth of investment, a year’s worth of construction, two rejections from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and ensuing litigation, the Victoria Riverside Townhouse Lofts are ready for occupancy.
Dozens, including Gov. Deval Patrick, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for the 100 market-rate rental apartments that are located in a historic, two-story brick edifice on the banks of the Acushnet River in the city’s North End.
It is the latest New Bedford mill reclamation project for developer Stephen Ricciardi. Ricciardi, who is the president of Acorn Management, also spearheaded The Lofts at Wamsutta Place, another restoration project that yielded 250 residential apartments. That project focused on 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.
The Riverside project, formerly known as Whitman Mill No. 2, likely will not be his last in the city, either.
Ricciardi, speaking in front of the 10 Manomet St. building, said he plans to turn the nearby Cliftex II mill building into market-rate housing. His proposal goes before the city’s Planning Board on May 11.
Ricciardi also hailed state historic tax credits that he said made both the Wamsutta and Victoria Riverside initiatives a reality. The projects garnered tax credits of $6 million for Wamsutta and $2.9 million for Victoria.
The Victoria textile mill was built in 1896 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by renowned architect Charles Makepeace. During its heyday, the mill had 177,608 spindles and 4,610 looms.
The building, which is located off Riverside Avenue, sat vacant for several decades before Ricciardi’s Quincy-based firm rehabilitated it, Mayor Scott W. Lang said.
“Steve Ricciardi saw something that was quite unique,” he said.
“Communities get built; they don’t just happen,” Patrick told the crowd. The governor referenced a handful of economic development projects in the city, including the Wamsutta Lofts and the Riverside Landing development that broke ground early last year and is now home to Market Basket.
The Victoria mill’s cavernous ceilings, which top out at 18 feet, and large windows, some of which are 14 feet tall, feature prominently in the building. Heavy timber and brick typifies the interior.
Some of the building’s flooring is original; there are patches that are new.
A row of tall, rounded wooden columns runs off-center through a corridor that forms the spine of the building, which features an underground parking garage.
Seventeen of the building’s 100 units are under rental agreement. The building is a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 1,008 square feet to 1,470 square feet and $950 to $1,395 in monthly rent.
The project had its fair share of hiccups and delays.
The Zoning Board of Appeals rejected a key permit for the project twice. Attempting to move the project forward, Ricciardi filed suit in Land Court and Superior Court at different times. In July 2009, a Superior Court judge ultimately ordered the city clerk to issue a certificate approving a special permit for the project. Construction began in January 2010 and the building was granted an occupancy permit earlier this month.
Asked about the rigmarole of the project’s permitting process and the resulting litigation, Ricciardi said Tuesday: “Here’s my quote: All’s well that ends well.”
Elected officials celebrated another ribbon-cutting for a recently completed residential project at The Regency on Pleasant Street.
The 140-foot downtown apartment building, with its 16 floors, is the tallest building in the city. A $30 million face-lift of the 23-year-old building, which has 129 units, was recently completed.
April 27, 2011 12:00 AM
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