New Bedford’s plan for business park include 1,000 jobs, 9-hole golf course

Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:18 PM

By Michael Bonner / mbonner@s-t.com

NEW BEDFORD — “A lot of work” still needs to be done before the city can transform part of the Whaling City Golf Course into a business park, the mayor said Thursday.

“It’s not a done deal,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said at an afternoon news conference. “There’s still a number of questions that have to be sorted through.”

The city and MassDevelopment plan to convert a 100-acre section of the golf course into a 1.3 million-square-foot commercial site that could create at least 1,000 jobs. The golf course would downsize to a 9-hole course, which was its original size in 1920.

The city targeted the course because of its sufficient acreage and access to highways, rails and airport.

The biggest hurdle to the project could be Article 97, which protects municipally held green space. Legislation is needed when working on protected land. However, Mitchell said only a portion of the golf course falls under Article 97 protection.

“The part that we’re building on is not protected park land,” Mitchell said.

State Rep. Chris Markey called the announcement “bittersweet” as he reminisced about playing all 18 holes as a child.

“I’m certain there are many other people who have great memories of being able to play golf at a cheap rate in the city,” he said. “…You need to make sure you take every opportunity as the mayor said and take advantage of every asset you have.”

Some residents in attendance voiced displeasure with the plans because the city would lose a green space. Those concerns reached the state level, too.

“It will be incumbent upon the city, but I will strongly suggest a very public process,” Sen. Mark Montigny said.

With proper public vetting, the New Bedford native backed the idea.

“When you look at the positive aspects, I think it has the potential to be a major job creator,” Montigny said.

The park could produce $2 million annually in property tax.

“Let me tell you, New Bedford needs to increase its tax base,” Markey said. “It has to. It cannot survive without that. It will never survive without that. The opportunity that this avails the city and the people of New Bedford is incredible.”

The projected cost for the project is $12 million. Funding, in part, is expected to come from land sales and state and federal funding. MassDevelopment announced a $300,000 grant during the press conference.

The city plans to convey the land to MassDevelopment based on sharing the net proceeds at completion.

MassDevelopment would inherit the cost for demolishing the clubhouse and the redesign of the course. The city would be responsible for constructing a new clubhouse.

The course would remain open through the project. Mitchell suggested the earliest any ground may be broken on the project would be in 2019.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Mitchell said.

Original Story Here:

SouthCoast Today – Our View: Dredge the Port of New Bedford to 30 feet

Fairhaven selectmen this week added their voices to the growing chorus looking for New Bedford Harbor to be dredged to its authorized depth.

Dredging to the authorized depth of 30 feet would open the port to more vessels and activity, and would allow the construction of more maritime infrastructure. It would bring millions of dollars of economic activity to the port and many hundreds of jobs. It could be undertaken cooperatively, so that state-authorized dredging and federal dredging for contamination and maintenance could enjoy efficiencies estimated to save about $10 million.

Despite federal programs to maintain ports like New Bedford’s, limited federal money presents a hindrance to their accomplishment. The commonwealth has picked up part of the effort.

Local legislators and public officials are right to raise their voices, knowing that 30-foot dredging hasn’t been done for 50 years. Every hint of momentum for greater economic activity acts as a prod to get more cargo ships, more docks, and new industries into port.

The only concern has been raised by Hands Across the River, which wants protections for people when sediment contaminated by PCBs is moved according to procedures being followed for Superfund dredging. A study released this winter, however, suggests that airborne PCB contamination around the Superfund site exists because of ambient emissions, not because it was disturbed during dredging. Nevertheless, HARC’s concerns aren’t to be casually dismissed.

Budget constraints never fail to change government’s plans, and we are far from confident regarding state revenue projections, which, as usual, continue to be estimated down. We understand those constraints and concerns, but because we do have confidence in the commonwealth to make wise decisions, we will urge the administration’s consideration of port issues — an undeniable priority, considering the lieutenant governor’s vigorous leadership of the Seaport Economic Council — to adjust its course enough to prioritize dredging of the rich, vibrant Port of New Bedford. The port is already delivering revenue to Boston beyond what one might expect from the population. Dredging will bring even more.

CoveWalk officially opens on New Bedford’s South End

By Michael Bonner / mbonner@s-t.com

NEW BEDFORD — Mayor Jon Mitchell welcomed back state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack about a year and a half after their first discussion of the CoveWalk.

Pollack returned Wednesday to New Bedford with Gov. Charlie Baker to witness the fruits of the state’s $5 million investment for the official ribbon-cutting of the CoveWalk.

“When you walk over the walkway and take a look out and see what’s behind you, it’s an ‘oh, wow moment,’” Baker said. “It gives us all the ability to help people in this community remember where they are, which is sitting here on this beautiful harbor.”

Mitchell joked that when he and Pollack first discussed the CoveWalk, they faced even worse elements compared to the strong steady breeze they dealt with on Wednesday.

It’s located atop the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier on the west side of the South End peninsula on Clark’s Cove. The CoveWalk measures 5,500 feet, more than 2,000 feet longer than the HarborWalk, located on the east side of the peninsula.

“When people come to our city, from now on, we want people to think not only of the Whaling Museum and the fishing industry, but also the great public spaces like this,” Mitchell said.

The official opening of the walkway is the latest addition to “The Blue Lane,” a name the city labeled the walking and bike paths that span the city’s 11-mile shoreline.

Mitchell handed Baker, Pollack and their staff members commemorative “Blue Lane” water bottles before the ribbon-cutting.

“Everyone should have a chance to have something like this in their community,” Mitchell said. “New Bedforders have deserved something like this for the last 50 years. So that’s what’s most pleasing about it.”

Construction began on the hurricane barrier in 1962 and was completed in 1966. The barrier remains the largest man-made structure on the East Coast of the United States.

Until recently, they also blocked a view of the waterfront.

“While it does a great job of protecting everybody from Mother Nature’s worst days, the problem with that is you don’t have the ability without this type of walk way to appreciate what’s on the other side,” Baker said.

P.A. Landers and Seguin Enterprises completed the construction that included 2,230 cubic yards of concrete, 11,100 feet of aluminium railing and 44,300 feet of electric wiring to power the 230 light fixtures.

The 13-inch concrete foundation of the walkway actually stabilizes the the hurricane barrier, Mitchell said, making it stronger than before in more ways that one.

“There’s a lot happening here,” Mitchell said. “We think that in a few years you’re going to see continued private investment here.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

 

Original Story Here

Refurbished Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home opens in New Bedford


By Steve Urbon

NEW BEDFORD — Visitors to the Whaling Museum had a pleasant surprise waiting for them when they bought their tickets Friday: Tickets may have gone up a dollar to $17, but that extra dollar bought them admission to the “soft” opening day of the refurbished Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home.

Fred Toomey, president of the Port Society of New Bedford, which owns the two buildings, showed up at 7:30 a.m. Friday to pick up where he and others left off in completing the building projects. “This has been my second home,” he said. “My wife never sees me.”

Whaling Museum curator Arthur Motta and senior historian Michael Dyer were among those installing antiques and images from the museum’s vast collection in the Mariners’ Home, which is open to the public for the first time in anyone’s memory. No longer will it be a haven for mariners but rather a museum with themed exhibits representing facets of New Bedford. The original kitchen is now an exhibit devoted to modern fishing, and the brick beehive oven has been exposed to admire but not actually use.

There is a room devoted to “Moby-Dick,” the book and especially the movie. There is the Rotch Room, so named for the family that built the Mariners’ Home in 1797.

A walk-through the Home and the Bethel makes it clear that this $2.9 million restoration and expansion project has given Toomey and the rest of the society and the docents a lot of new things to talk about.

In the new main entry, back behind the buildings, is a reception desk made entirely out of salvaged wood and planks.

The desk top, Toomey explains, “came from a plank that was 29 feet long and 30 inches wide and made up a part of the floor” of the Bethel’s basement meeting room, or salt box. “Imagine the size of the tree that came from,“e said.

Over in the Bethel, unlike the Mariners’ Home, everything looks as it has. But there are hidden improvements. “The building is air-conditioned for the first time,” Toomey said.

It is also structurally stable, as compared to the dire condition prior to the project that found the Bethel ready to collapse.

“There’s $89,000 worth of work underneath the floor” of the saltbox, Toomey said. Rotten support beams had taken their toll.

Another selling point: A large granite block, perhaps six feet square and 16 inches thick, is the new welcome mat, having been discovered when uncovering an old cistern.

The Bethel rests on ledge, which brought its own issues. Repairs to the floors had to be done in the Bethel by digging down to uneven ledge, then filling with packed sand, peastone gravel, concrete, two-by-four stringers, marine plywood and then the floorboard.

There is an elevator for the first time to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is big enough to handle a gurney, Toomey said. “We don’t say casket.” That is a reminder that the Bethel is a church and sometimes hosts funerals.

Most visitors won’t see the second and third floors of the Mariners’ Home. The second floor is already occupied by the Waterfront Historic Area League, and the Preservation Society will soon move in to the shared space.

The third floor will house the Port Society, a conference room and a kitchen/break room.

The project has raised much of what it needed to pay for it all, but Toomey said that “the capital campaign continues.”

At the Whaling Museum, which has filled the Mariners’ Home with dozens of objects and more to come, admission has risen a dollar to $17, and it is now a combined admission to the Whaling Museum and the Port Society’s properties.

Toohey said there will not be a paid ticket to get into the Bethel and Mariners’ Home directly because it is a church. Anyone who skips the museum will be admitted anyway with a polite request for a donation to defray expenses.

An official grand opening is set for May 19.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.

 

Original Story Here

Mitchell believes an innovation district would bring the best, brightest to SMAST

NEW BEDFORD — A plot extending roughly 300 feet along Rodney French Boulevard in the South End will be the site of the “innovation district” that Mayor Jon Mitchell announced last week during his State of the City address.

The land extends south toward the wastewater treatment plant for about 200 feet. While it’s not an overly large piece of land, the city believes it’s vital to the future of New Bedford.

“The idea would be to utilize city-owned land to create an environment in which people can live and and be close to research as well as business innovation opportunity,” Mitchell said.

Similar projects also labeled as “innovation districts” have popped up and are being constructed around the world. Mitchell and City Council President Joseph Lopes traveled to Pittsburgh last November to analyze its districts. They’ll travel to St. Louis in April.

“You can learn so much more by having the discussion with those who have gone through it,” Lopes said.

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization that conducts research on new ideas for solving problems facing society, has provided Mitchell with research on innovation districts. The organization defines an “innovation districts” as “geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators.”

In this case, UMass Dartmouth’s SMAST facilities would anchor the district. Mitchell said the project won’t affect taxpayers, but instead will focus on private projects.

“By creating something that has these different elements you create that the whole idea of the innovative district,” dean of SMAST Steven Lohrenz said. “Its creating this multipurpose site with a lot of different elements and there is synergy that develops and makes it more attractive to people.”

Mitchell said the district is still years away, but the research and planning underway allowed him to announce it in last week’s State of the City.

No official plans exist for what the district could contain, but Mitchell suggested, like most around the world, it might include housing, business incubators and retail and dining opportunities.

“We want to be seen as a place where ideas can be generated and commercialized,” Mitchell said. “Those ideas are key in having an urban environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive.”

Mitchell pointed to the success of Christopher Rezendes and his Internet connectivity company, IoT Impact LABS, as past examples of innovation within the city.

This project is different in that includes SMAST, which already houses an a core of potential innovators students and professors.

“It’s a way for the city and university to expand on an already good partnership,” said Derek Santos, the executive director of New Bedford’s Economic Development Council.

Mitchell said one of the issues surrounding SMAST is that many of the dwellings in the area of the two facilities are single-family homes, which limit the number of students and professors that can live near campus.

Mitchell, Lopes and Lohrenz agreed, though, any and all projects within the district would only be approved after consideration of the neighborhood.

“This is going have to be sized right,” Lohrenz said. “We’re not building the next strip mall. It has to be something that compliments the surroundings.”

According to the Brookings Institution, innovation districts can increase economic activity and help raise property values. The group states the increased revenue can be used to invest in infrastructure, public safety, affordable housing and schools.

Santos called Cambridge’s Kendall Square, the mother of all “innovation districts.” It combines growth around MIT and along with nearby institutions like Massachusetts General Hospital.

New Bedford’s district would be on a much smaller scale but contain the same ideas.

“You take academics and mix that with private sector,” Santos said. “And you create an environment that can be dynamic.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonner.

Original Story here:

Moby Dick Brewing Co. closing in on opening day

NEW BEDFORD — A whale of a beer operation is brewing in the city’s downtown historic district.

The Moby Dick Brewing Co. is set to open its doors, and its taps, to the public on March 14 — making it the only grain-to-glass brewery in New Bedford.

Located on the corner of Union and Water street, the nearly 100-seat brewpub is aiming to cater to the craft beer crowd, the roughly 5,000 people working in the downtown area and the 120,000 people that live within 20 minutes of its doorsteps, says co-owner Bob Unger.

“We think we’re going to rejuvenate this whole section of the city,” Unger said.

Moby Dick is a joint venture of Unger, a former editor and associate publisher of The Standard-Times, and six other partners.

They hope to do for the historic district what the whaling industry did for the city two centuries ago.

Calling on the novel that helped put New Bedford on the literary map, Unger thought the name of the brewery was a no-brainer.

“Quite frankly, we felt the name is under-utilized around here,” Unger said. “Given where we’re located and the fact that this corner was once a place that outfitted whaling vessels, as most places in this part of the city did, it seemed to make sense.”

With the name and location out of the way, they enlisted the help of acclaimed local brewmaster Scott Brunelle to handle the beer and former Seattle-based chef Tom Mackley to create a menu to pair with Brunelle’s eight beers brewed in-house.

From the food to the beer to the artwork hanging on the walls the idea is evident: local sustainability. A beer Brunelle produces with wheat grain that’s spent at the end of the brewing process could be sent to a local farmer to be used to feed their livestock. They’d buy the local prepared meats from them in exchange for the wheat grain.

“We want to be good neighbors,” he said. “We want to support the work of other restaurants and businesses around us. Their success contributes to ours.”

Mackley added, “I think the idea was to reach out to the different local producers, purveyors and fishermen and see what type of ingredients were available and figure out what’s sustainable and what’s being caught responsibly.”

The lunch and dinner menus will blend classic pub fare with some of New Bedford’s seafood flare. The city’s well-known fishing industry and the possibility to work with a new set of ingredients are what excited the farm-to-table chef about coming to Moby Dick.

But even the classics will have a local, innovative spin on them. The fish and chips dish will be made from a beer batter of the American lager brewed in one of Brunelle’s five stainless steel brewing tanks, that hold 310 gallons each. The chowder will feature salt cod, a Portuguese favorite. Some more adventurous items will be the pan-seared redfish and skate wing, and the grilled whole fish.

“We’re hoping people won’t be scared off by the head being on the plate,” Mackley said.

Unger and Slutz dove head-first into the brewpub venture a little more than a year ago. He had just left his position at the Standard-Times and SouthCoastToday.com when Slutz had left Precix.

“What do you want to be when you grow up,” Unger asked Slutz while having coffee at the Green Bean one day.

It didn’t take more than 30 minutes for Slutz to be convinced. The seed was planted in Unger’s mind after sharing a few beers with his father, a former brewer for Schaefer Brewery, in St. Augustine, Florida. His 91-year-old father said, “If I was 25 years younger I would open a place like this. And you should too.”

Unger didn’t need to convince many more as he received investment backing with strong local ties.

The investment team includes David Slutz, former CEO of Precix; Maureen Sylvia Armstrong, CEO of the Sylvia Group in Dartmouth; Peter Kavanaugh, owner of Brownell Boat Stands in Mattapoisett and president of La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in Dartmouth; Richard Lafrance, CEO of Lafrance Hospitality, which operates the New Bedford Fairfield Inn & Suites and White’s of Westport, among other hotel and restaurant holdings; Andy Gomes, owner of A Gomes Equipment in Acushnet; Randy Weeks, the partner-in-charge of Partridge, Snow & Hahn’s New Bedford office, and Unger, principal of Unger LeBlanc Inc. Strategic Communications.

The hope of everyone is to rebirth the area of the downtown facing the waterfont and make New Bedford a destination for tourists and locals alike.

“I think there are going to be more and more people coming to New Bedford, but as we become a local staple hopefully they’ll want to stick around more. We think that’s a good thing for New Bedford,” Unger said.

Original Story Here:

Mitchell outlines future success for New Bedford in State of the City address

By Michael Bonner mbonner@s-t.com

NEW BEDFORD — Jon Mitchell looked toward the past to draw inspiration for New Bedford’s future. While he highlighted the immediate successes of last year, including a declining unemployment rate that fell more than any metro in the U.S., a port that represents 2 percent of the state’s gross national product and a shrinking crime rate, the mayor highlighted the prospects of the future by alluding to the past triumphs of nonagenarian Cal Siegal.

“His example is most relevant to us today,” Mitchell said inside the field house at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School.

Mitchell touched on Siegal’s life story which includes graduating New Bedford High School as its salutatorian. He enrolled at Yale before World War II interrupted his studies. The rifleman and Purple Heart recipient was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, before eventually returning to the U.S. and earning a degree at Yale.

“Cal had a lot of options. He could have gone anywhere but he decided to come back to New Bedford,” Mitchell said. “…We have our own opportunity, in our own time, to be city builders. That requires us to stretch, to extend ourselves. And we need to work harder than most places, but that’s OK.”

The most difficult work ahead of the city revolves around drug addiction.

“All of our public safety departments have been in the thick of what I believe is the single most vexing public safety challenge of our day: opiate addiction,” Mitchell said. “Any discussion of the well-being of residents of our city has to begin here.”

Mitchell praised the community for being one of the first to arm its first responders with Narcan, which he said is used on nightly basis. He thanked the assistance of Dr. Mike Rocha and Rev. David Lima, who have developed programs to prevent addicts from relapses.

He also pointed to the efforts of police officers and religious groups for offering services to victims and their families.

But the mayor voiced the need for action on top of reaction.

“The most effective way to stem the tide of addiction is through prevention,” he said. “We need to keep people from ever using drugs in the first place.”

It translates to drug education in classes as early as elementary school that describe “the perils of drug use.”

Mitchell described opiate addiction as an issue for everyone in the community, one affecting sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters.

“Let me be clear, this is a complex, multifaceted problem that affects people of every walk of life and all of us in some way or another,” Mitchell said. “So the only way we are going to turn the tide is through sustained, collective effort.”

Mitchell announced a few specific goals in his speech: He called for the creation of a marine science-oriented zone or “innovation district” on land adjacent to the new SMAST marine science campus in the South End. And in arguing for the city to invest in its physical infrastructure, he departed from his prepared remarks to call for the hiring of chief city planner, a position long vacant.

As he has in past addresses, Mitchell again called for the state to address the fixed costs it places on municipalities in the state pension and health care benefits, charter school costs and labor agreements “forced on us by state arbitrators.”

Throughout his nearly hour-long speech, the mayor also stressed the importance of a united effort to bring the city to unprecedented heights.

He established a goal of maintaining the city’s reputation as one of the top fishing ports in the country while also becoming a hub for offshore wind.

“They are all looking at New Bedford for a place to start,” Mitchell said.

Similar clean energy technologies like solar panels have saved the residents of New Bedford millions of dollars on the city’s electric bills, Mitchell said.

In building on that success, he announced the launch of a study of city government to ensure it can provide services as the lowest possible costs.

“By the time we’re done, we will have the most efficiently run city government in Massachusetts,” Mitchell said. “That’s our goal, plain and simple.”

Future growth in technology can be based in education. Mitchell proudly noted improving teaching of non-English speakers, upgrading technology, revamping curriculum and establishing administrator training program.

He stated next year the Accelerated Learning Program will expand to all middle schools.

“Most importantly, the school system now holds itself accountable,” Mitchell said. “…Going through the motions no longer flies.”

The same could be said about the city often labeled as a “working city or gateway city.” Mitchell desires more.

“Though well-intended, (the labels) are all too often understood to mean cities that are looking for help,” he said. “New Bedford is not an ailing patient. We are prepared to compete.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

Original Story Here:

 

National fiber art magazine’s inaugural exhibit lands in New Bedford

Contemporary fiber art is not your grandmother’s crocheted afghan.

Excellence in Fibers, an exhibition of selected works drawn from the second annual international juried print exhibition published by Fiber Art Now magazine, presents some of the most exciting and innovative work being done today in the world of contemporary fiber art.

The show, up at New Bedford Art Museum / ArtWorks! from Jan. 25 to March 19, is FAN’s first venture into presenting their print exhibition in a real-world venue.

Fiber Art Now received submissions from artists around the world in response to the call for entries. The prestigious panel of jurors were: Emily Zilber, Curator, MFA Boston; Gerhardt Knodel and Norma Minkowitz, both internationally recognized fiber artists and icons in the field of fiber; and Melissa Leventon, principal of Curatrix Group Museum Consultants and a former curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Of the over 50 works in the print exhibition, 31 were selected for the show at NBAM/AW.

Excellence in Fibers runs the gamut from established artists to newcomers; from traditional age-old basket weaving techniques to digital manipulation and printing; from familiar sewing and quilt making to laser cutting techniques.

Within the broad category of fiber, the show includes weaving, sewing, applique, embroidery, basket making, sculpture, crochet, felting, screen printing, joomchi and knotting.

As part of the print exhibition, special awards were given and several of those are in this show.

Nicole Benner’s Comfort/Confine is a large work of crocheted copper wire that becomes a performance piece when donned by a wearer. Named as the Paul J. Smith Award for Excellence in Fiber winner, Benner’s work is a thought-provoking piece on the effects of chronic pain.

“In Comfort/Confine, I utilize the copper yarn as a reference to the nervous system: an aspect of my own chronic pain that can be debilitating. Here the body has defined mobility, only capable of reaching where the textile allows,” the artist stated in the exhibition issue of Fiber Art Now. Benner hails from Marshall, Missouri.

Joel Allen’s hand-wrapped, tied and knotted work Hooked on Svelte was named the winner in the installation category. A series of large mixed media pendants are suspended from the ceiling creating a fun, textured and colorful display 12 feet long by this Steamboat Springs, Colorado, artist.

At the other end of the size spectrum, at only 17 inches in height, is Massachusetts artist Lois Russel’s NZ, a little jewel of twined waxed linen thread – and winner in the Vessel Forms/Basketry category.

The Nigerian Riot Girl, by artist Jacky M. Puzey of the United Kingdom, is one of the international submissions. Employing a tour de force of fiber techniques, this winner of the Wearables Award is an intricate couture dress designed and constructed by the artist that dazzles with a complex mix of materials.

In the Wall/Floor Works category artist Heather Ujiie of Langhorne, Pennsylvania was named the winner for her textile mural consisting of five panels that together are 126 inches by 250 inches. Battle of the Sea Monsters was originally hand drawn in markers, pen and ink, then scanned at high resolution, digitally manipulated and printed on canvas. Vibrantly colored, the work is an intense mass of men, women and other creatures waging a ferocious battle on a lemon colored sea.

The complete list of artists also includes David Bacharach, Pat Hickman, Pat Burns-Wendland, Pat Busby, Anna Carlson, Deborah Corsini, Ania Gilmore, Anna Kristina Goransson, Meredith Grimsley, Henry Hallett, Patricia Kennedy-Zafred, Jean Koon, Mariko Kusumoto, Jeannet Leendertse, Dorothy McGuinness, Alicia Merrett, Elizabeth Odiorne, Kathryn Rousso, Chloe Sachs, Diane Savona, Deloss Webber and Wendy Weiss.

The opening reception for Excellence in Fibers will be held Sunday Jan. 29 from 2 to 5 p.m. Marcia Young, editor-in-chief of Fiber Art Now, along with a number of the artists, will be on hand. Workshops by well-known fiber artists Elin Noble and Jeanne Flanagan will be offered in New Bedford the preceding day.

Registrations and special hotel discounts are available through Fiber Art Now.

For further information contact the Museum at 508.961.3072 or visit www.NewBedfordArt.org.

New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! is located at 608 Pleasant Street, New Bedford. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m.; open every Thursday until 9 p.m.

Original Story Here:

Joseph Abboud goes 70 percent solar

By

Joseph Abboud has gone solar.

The suit maker’s only manufacturing facility, a 272,000 square-foot mill once powered with coal and then with oil, is now using rooftop solar to generate about 70 percent of its electricity.

Built in 1909, the building has a sawtooth roof with 43 rows of north-facing skylights that let natural light into the mill.

Because the roofing is tilted at 22 degrees and faces south, it was perfect for capturing sunlight, said Phil Cavallo, CEO of Beaumont Solar Co., which installed the solar panels.

Drive down Belleville Avenue in New Bedford, and you can see the panels from the street.

“It’s pretty neat. It’s very photogenic,” he said.

The 1.3-megawatt system can generate 1.62 million kilowatt hours of energy each year.

Joseph Abboud president Anthony Sapienza said the company is a big user of electricity and has been conversant in renewable energy for years. With state tax credits and availability of local solar expertise, the project made sense, he said.

He expects the facility to cut its power costs by 80 percent.

The company has also converted its heating system from oil to natural gas and switched from fluorescent to LED lighting where possible, he said.

Joseph Abboud makes 1,300 suits per day in the facility. It has 800 employees, all of them local and overwhelmingly from New Bedford, Sapienza said.

Its parent company is Tailored Brands, which also owns Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, and other menswear names.

Sapienza said the solar installation cost about $2.5 million and represents the company’s commitment to American-made products and to the city of New Bedford.

The city has become a leader in solar power, and “we’re proud to be a part of that story,” he said.

Sapienza, Cavallo, and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell gathered on the manufacturing floor Tuesday to announce the project. Mitchell said New Bedford has installed more solar capacity per capita than any other city in the continental United States.

A century ago, when the Abboud building was part of the Nashawena Mills textile complex, coal was trucked in and burned to make steam and generate electricity, according to Cavallo. A tunnel beneath Belleville Avenue still connects the boiler house, on the east side of the street, with the main building to the west, he said.

New Bedford-based Beaumont Solar is the former Beaumont Sign Co., which Cavallo bought in 2006. An electrical engineer with ties to Cape Cod, he previously worked in Silicon Valley but wanted to return to the East Coast, he said.

Original Story Here: