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New England News

Ludlow Mills Project To Be In Spotlight At National Conference

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WAMC
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The ongoing redevelopment of a sprawling old mill complex in Ludlow, Massachusetts -- the largest project of its kind in New England -- will be highlighted later this year at a national conference.

 The Westmass Area Development Corporation has been selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to participate in the National Brownfields Conference in Chicago. Representatives of the private nonprofit developer will make a presentation on its work at the Ludlow Mills—the largest brownfield mills redevelopment project in New England.

4,000-5,000 people are expected to attend the conference Sept. 2-4.

The Westmass presentation is expected to credit the EPA for funding the cleanup of the site which began six years ago, and highlight the work of the Massachusetts Brownfield Support Team for expediting permitting and helping cut through bureaucratic red tape.

During a visit to the Ludlow Mills in 2013, the New England region EPA administrator Curt Spalding said the project was a national model.

" I wish all the mills in New England or many more of them had this kind of opportunity, so you could save the building and create a great use, " he remarked.

More than $6 million was spent to remove asbestos and other pollutants from the property, which has more than 60 buildings on 170 acres along the Chicopee River.

A $28 million 53-bed rehabilitation hospital opened as the anchor tenant in the redevelopment last year.  Boston-based WinnDevelopment is applying for state tax credits to finance construction of 75 apartments for seniors inside one of the old mill buildings.

Westmass President Kenn Delude said there are 38 small businesses on the property that occupy spaces between 3,000-6,000 square feet each.

" They are the backbone and we hope to continue to always have space for young businesses and startups," he said.

Delude said demand for new construction of commercial-industrial space has remained slow since the Great Recession.

" The next project we are going to focus on is developing the clock tower building as a mixed use development," he said during an interview last month.

Projections by Westmass say the redevelopment of the Ludlow Mills over the next 15-20 years will result in 2,000 jobs and up to $300 million in private investment.

Construction started last month to build a 1.5 mile riverwalk on the property  It was one of the first commitments made to the town in the master plan for the redevelopment project.

" It will be a great experience to bring people out to the river. It has been fenced off for 150 years. The community has been outside the fence and this is our chance to bring people inside and we are very excited about that," said Delude.

The riverwalk is scheduled to open to the public in August.

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