Massachusetts will fund enhancements to a riverwalk project in Ludlow that is part of the largest brownfields mill redevelopment in New England.
The town of Ludlow has officially signed an agreement with the state to accept a $429,500 grant from the MassWorks program. It will be used for lighting, benches, signage explaining the history of the property, and other amenities along the 1.7-mile Ludlow Mills Riverwalk.
Carmina Fernandes, a member of the town board of selectmen, said the town maintains the paved path along the Chicopee River which opened to the public last year.
" It adds to the quality of life in town and just makes the town a better place," said Fernandes.
The town hopes to complete the upgrades to the riverwalk by next summer. The MassWorks grant was announced by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito last May.
The riverwalk is part of the Ludlow Mills Preservation and Redevelopment project.
The 170-acre complex of more than 60 former mill buildings along the Chicopee River is being redeveloped in stages by Westmass Area Development Corporation. The nonprofit developer of large industrial parks purchased the mill complex five years ago.
Westmass president and CEO Eric Nelson said the riverwalk is an important part of the redevelopment because it reconnects the community with the Chicopee River and the residential, commercial, and industrial tenants in the former mill.
"The activity that brings people on that property really brings opportunities," said Nelson.
The initial $600,000 to build the riverwalk in 2015 came from HealthSouth, which opened a 53-bed rehabilitation hospital in 2014 that was the first major redevelopment project completed at the Ludlow Mills.
There is a microbrewery, and about 30 other small businesses and manufacturers now on the property.
A master plan calls for the redevelopment of the entire complex over the next 15-20 years resulting in 2,000 jobs and $300 million in private investment.
Boston-based WinnDevelopment is converting one of the mill buildings into 75 apartments for active senior adults. When that project is finished next year, the company expects to begin a $60 million mixed-use redevelopment of the landmark clock tower building, according to company president Lawrence Curtis.
" The iconic historic building will be apartments, it will be commercial development and all of it together becomes a fantastic centerpiece for the town of Ludlow," said Curtis.
The initial development plan, announced by Curtis earlier this year, calls for 100-130 market rate apartments, professional office space, light industry and perhaps some retail.
The clock tower building, known as Mill 8, was built in 1900. Its outline is part of the official seal of the town of Ludlow.