Waterfront Mixed-Use Development Project Moves Forward

Demolition of Fairhaven Mills is Under way
By Brian Boyd, New Bedford Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD — After months of debate, demolition of Fairhaven Mills is under way and city officials say it could be completed in a month.
In the past few days, workers have been removing windows that contain asbestos, a necessary preliminary step in taking apart the structure known as Building 4, said Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.
“We would expect within the next 30 days, the building would be disassembled,” Morrissey said Monday.
The developers could start construction of the planned retail building in the next few months, he said.
Meanwhile, the identity of the future retail tenants could become public in the next several weeks. City officials will give retailers the opportunity to make their own announcements, said Elizabeth Treadup, spokeswoman for Mayor Scott W. Lang.
A home improvement retailer will not be one of the tenants, Treadup said. An earlier proposal had called for a Home Depot at the site.
The City Council voted 8-2 last week in favor of the demolition, the final approval Dickinson Development needed from the city to start taking down the building. Developers Mark Dickinson and Mark White have said Building 4 has to come down for their project to proceed as planned.
Dickinson could not be immediately reached Monday afternoon.
In the first phase of the project, the developers plan to build a large retail building on the west side of the property. The second phase involves construction of a mix of uses along the Acushnet River.
Lang told The Standard-Times that the beginning of the demolition will help the economic development of the surrounding area.
“I think it’s important for the development of the near North End,” Lang said. “It will create jobs and a tax base we haven’t had for some time.”
The developers will try to salvage materials, such as granite and bricks, for reuse in construction on the site or elsewhere. Recovered wood could be used on the schooner Ernestina, he added.
Although the focus now is on the retail part of the project, developers have begun planning for the second phase, he said.
Also, the city has secured $2.7 million in state funding for reconstruction of the Interstate 195 ramps and local streets surrounding the Fairhaven Mills site. The city will build an access road through the site to connect Coggeshall and Sawyer streets.
Morrissey said Mitchell and Sawyer streets already have their first layer of asphalt, as well as new sidewalks and curbs. He said Coggeshall Street’s renovations are under way, as is widening of the on- and off-ramps for Interstate 195.
The demolition application first went to the city’s Historical Commission, which voted that the Fairhaven Mills buildings are historically significant but not preferably preserved, clearing the way for demolition.
The vote was unanimous on three smaller buildings on the site, but the commission split 4-3 on Building 4.
The matter then went to the City Council. The council held a public hearing on the application, as required under the city’s demolition delay ordinance, during which it voted to accept the Historical Commission’s position on the mill buildings.
However, under the delay ordinance as it was then written, the full council could not vote on the permit application until September. The demolition delay ordinance was rewritten to clear up ambiguities. Those revisions eliminated the automatic 180-day delay, making it possible for the council to vote on the demolition.
June 16, 2009
Source URL: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090616/NEWS/906160317

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