Attorney General Healey Tours Greylock Mill Project
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Attorney General Maura Healey is already reserving rooms in the future Greylock Mill hotel.
Healey was in the city on Friday for a presentation and tour of the estimated $15 million project that was accepted into the state's brownfields covenant program in February. Developers Salvatore Perry and Karla Rothstein, based in New York City, took her through the massive building and up to the roof for a glimpse of the panoramic view.
"It's so exciting, the whole transformation ... it's really unbelievable," she said. "This is a particularly exciting project, and just having toured here, I'm so excited to see this develop and go forward."
Healey said she had a personal affinity for the area and understood that sometimes it hasn't always gotten the support it needed.
The attorney general's office oversees the covenant program, part of the Brownfields Act of 1998 that provides protection and incentives to clean up and develop polluted sites.
"We've had a robust program for 20 years or so and this past year and a half has been incredibly active with about 10 covenants we've issued including this one," said Betsy Harper, deputy division chief of the AG's Environmental Protection Division, adding the mill project has been "really a treat to work with."
The 240,000 square-foot former textile mill has housed a number of industries in its 140 years, including an aluminum anodizing company and a machine shop.
The covenant with the state releases the for-profit Greylock Works LLC from current and future liability as it redevelops the property into a mixed-use space of condominiums, even spaces, a boutique hotel, local culinary booths, performance spaces, and retail shops.
"The whole idea is to help blighted communities re-energize and a lot of them are in economically distressed areas," Harper said. "[The covenants] really help the community out with innovative ideas."
The agreement also provides liability relief to Greylock Flume LLC, a non-profit, for the preservation of open space and for the creation of a park, pedestrian walkway, and bike path to Route 2 across from the mill building. That project received a $200,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant.
"It's been 10 months since we closed but it's been two years since we encountered the property," said Rothstein. "It's been just an amazing array of existing institutions and organizations that we consider part of our community, from supporters to people who have just been willing to talk to us and help us understand where we are, and very much involved in the planning the future of what we imagine happening here."
The couple has already restored much of the Weave Shed, the long, low section of the mill along Route 2. The open space with new windows and skylights can hold up to 1,000 people. A commercial kitchen area is being installed with plans for a demonstration kitchen and creamery under way. The expectation is an opening in July.
Further development will include production spaces for grains, fermentation, butchery and other local, artisanal food production. The Shed will be somewhat modular, with a restaurant that can expand to cater to a higher population in the summer and retail in the winter.
Next steps will be the renovation of the four-story building on the west end into a 50-room hotel and 25 condominiums. The hotel will be on the lower floors with the condos on the upper floors. The 18-foot ceilings will allow for second-story lofts in the condos. A lounge and other amenities are also being planned.
The focus over the past year has been on stabilizing the building, taking care of the roof and working on the Weave Shed. They're now turning to tenancy and renting the event space, although the first use was the New Year's Party that hosted more than 500 people.
"We've gotten through the stabilization of the building, the renovation of the event space so the event interest is starting to happen on all its own," Rothstein said. "We've got our first wedding, so things are starting to move here in a really positive way."
The mill will also host the Williamstown Theatre Festival's free theater this summer, and other events are planned.
They also hope to connect to the planned Mohawk Bike Trail and Appalachian Trail through the barrel-vaulted flume through which water once flowed to power the mill. Perry said they'd dug down to uncover the structural underpinnings and are beginning engineering to design a public access through the flume to connect ballfields to the south with the river and bike path to the north.
The mill plans are "tapping into recreation, leisure, culture, food — combine that all together in one place," he said.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said the redevelopment of the mill is one aspect of the so-called "Cultural Corridor" being built along Route 2 between the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art that together bring in more than 400,000 visitors a year.
"These folks found us because they were here for our cultural assets," he said. "They were kind of like the real initial first step ... private capital, people from outside the area with really cool vision."
Healey said the brownfield covenants are a way to preserve and acknowledge the state's industrial history.
"These are such winners, for communities, for tax rolls, for employment, for helping drive healthy regional economies," she said. "And I think it's terribly exciting. ... It's just so smart that you've got this amazing infrastructure and bones here to sort of work with and celebrate."
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