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:

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

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:

Learn what offshore wind means for New Bedford

Events are happening so quickly as  the new US offshore wind industry begins to take shape that it’s hard to keep up. It’s harder still to know what is happening here in New Bedford, which will be home port for much of the work as the industry builds out. Just what will happen here, when will it happen and what will all of that mean?

You’ll have a chance to find out about what offshore wind will mean for New Bedford and southeastern Massachusetts businesses and workers at a Feb. 9 breakfast conversation hosted by the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.

The discussion will feature a panel including:

— Paul Vigeant, managing director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center;

— Derek Santos, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council;

— Ed Anthes-Washburn, director of the Port of New Bedford;

— Matthew Morrissey, Massachusetts vice president for Deepwater Wind, one of three developers looking to build wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

They’ll talk about what the building of an offshore wind industry will likely mean for New Bedford and other Massachusetts and Rhode Island coastal cities. Deepwater Wind recently began producing electrical power at its wind farm just off Block Island and is expected to bid next spring on  a contract to build 400 MW of power on leased federal ocean waters 15 to 25 miles off the Vineyard. The Port of New Bedford is home to the nation’s only Marine Commerce Terminal built especially to accommodate the assembly and shipping of enormous offshore wind turbine components, and the New Bedford Economic Development Council and the Port of New Bedford are deep into planning how best to accommodate and encourage the growth of the new industry.

The discussion is part of the Chamber’s popular Good Morning SouthCoast series and will be held at 7:30 a.m. at the Waypoint Convention Center at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 185 MacArthur Dr, New Bedford. Contact the Chamber for reservations.

 

CEO Q&A: Servpro sees results from prime New Bedford spot

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NEW BEDFORD — Servpro of New Bedford President Doug Glassman proudly says that his volume of business has tripled in the four years he has owned the local franchise of the national chain. This past summer, he capped off a move to the former Sam Giammalvo’s car dealership building at 1476 Purchase St., which his team converted some from space into a suite of new offices.

Glassman said he employs about 12, but more in the colder months when there are all kinds of issues with structures including ice dams and broken pipes.

Servpro is easy to spot: The building now is vivid signature green, the brightest splash of color along Route 18.

You have just moved into this building, haven’t you?

Yes. We bought the building in January, and we did a full build-out. The office space around us is all new. We just gutted it out and started from scratch. We moved in at the end of May.

You painted the building green facing Route 18. That really makes a statement.

Yes, that’s one of the best parts. It’s the brand Servpro, the brand awareness and that color pops. So that was something that tastefully done looks good but also grabs your attention as well.

Where were you before this?

We were on Kempton Street. If you go remember back in the day, it was George’s Radiator Shop not far from the health food store at 45 Kempton St.

So you were sort of tucked away out of sight.

Yes, absolutely. It was a great move for us, obviously. A, the visibility we get, but B what we do because the type of work that we do for emergencies, restoration and getting to our customers as fast as possible. We’re right on the highway here so with a snap of the finger we’re on the highway and headed out to cover everybody on the SouthCoast.

You decided to locate essentially downtown as opposed to the industrial park or some other industrial area by the airport.

In my opinion, I wanted to be as close to downtown as we could. I feel like things are getting better and improving, and I want to be a part of it. I want to be down here in the heart of the city.

We do commercial and residential but were really in the heartbeat of New Bedford, and that also feeds out to all the veins that go out to the surrounding towns and communities in the area.

You do restoration. You do the dirty work when something bad happens to people, right?

Right. Think of it as sometimes when everybody is running away from a situation or it’s a mess they want to get to the house of things that are being destroyed, that’s when we’re heading in. So were that kind of restoration first responders, anything from water damage, a pipe breaks or a roof leaks and there seepage, flooding, fire cleanup. It could be anything from a small kitchen fire to complete devastation.

Do you occasionally go into a building and decide it’s not worth it, it’s too far gone?

Typically we can be part of the decisions sometimes, but it really comes down a lot of times to the property owner and especially when it’s an insurance loss. So at times they may deem that kind of thing and there are jobs where we go in and assess it. We bring in an architect, an engineer, and they assess the building. At times a job might not become a job for us because they just might have to tear the structure down.

How do you and your people learn to do what you do?

There are a lot of certifications in this industry, many of our guys have many of them.

I myself even went down to Servpro headquarters in Tennessee. I did aggressive training and I was there a month at one point when I was getting into this myself. Other than that it’s just more of continuing training and continuing to sharpen the skills. There’s a lot of training. The guys were continuously doing a lot of certifications that we have to sustain this industry and stay at the top of our game. There are several people here with a lot of experience.

Is there a concern with hazardous materials, even hazardous materials you might bring to a clean up job. What do you use? Is this proprietary chemistry?

There are Servpro products that we use that are made and created by Servpro. The cool thing is as we go along there the a lot of them that are becoming more natural and all-natural products. So the really hazardous stuff, I wouldn’t say we bring it into homes. We have a few products that are very strong for certain situations, but the majority that we use is very safe stuff like you’d buy off the shelf at a supermarket

As far as the jobs and some of the hazards that we go into and have to deal with in a day-in day-out basis, that’s where we’re heavily trained and follow procedures with personal protective equipment — PPE — follow those procedures and make sure that not only we’re having the safety of the customer but also our own workers as well.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.

Original Story Here

WHALE making fundraising push for ‘maker space’

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Next spring, the dusty, long-vacant space at 141 Union St. could be a hive of innovation and design that gives a huge boost to New Bedford’s art and “maker” communities.

NEW BEDFORD — The wooden floors were bare, parts of the ceiling were crumbling and water pooled in small puddles in the basement, but next spring, WHALE executive director Teri Bernert said, the dusty, long-vacant space at 141 Union St. could be a hive of innovation and design that gives a huge boost to the city’s art and “maker” communities.

“We’re trying to keep the artists in New Bedford,” Bernert said Wednesday, standing in what will become the Co-Creative Center, a 10,000-square-foot space that will include work and exhibition areas, with offices and apartments upstairs.

People will be able to use the shared equipment and space through memberships. Bernert and Amanda DeGrace, WHALE’s development coordinator, agreed that if the thriving Groundwork collaborative on Purchase Street is a shared office environment, the Co-Creative Center downtown will be a shared design studio — or lab, or “maker space,” or, essentially, garage-style workshop.

“But a really nice garage,” Bernert joked.

Think 3-D printers, tool benches, graphic design technology and more. Users of the space could include former art students from UMass Dartmouth’s nearby Star Store campus, local artisans, designers, startups and others.

The Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE) is planning a Saturday launch for an ambitious fundraising effort for the center, as it begins a final push toward opening the doors next May. WHALE is hoping to raise $50,000 by late November, and if it does so, quasi-governmental agency MassDevelopment will match the funds. But if they don’t make the goal, DeGrace said, they don’t get the dough.

“Think of it as like a Kickstarter for community development,” DeGrace said.

The matching funds are part of MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places program, and affiliated with the agency’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), which began in 2015. TDI beneficiaries include New Bedford’s Union and Purchase Innovation District. MassDevelopment works at federal, state and local levels to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Bernert said the Co-Creative Center’s fundraising effort and related events over the next two months are intended “to make the community aware of this new space that’s part of the creative economy of New Bedford.”

The redevelopment project also includes the adjoining 139 Union St., on the corner of Union and Acushnet Avenue. While the shared workspace at 141 Union will be a nonprofit model and eventually “its own entity,” Bernert said, the corner space at 139 Union will be a mixed-use model, with businesses, offices and housing.

Two eateries have signed letters of intent for leases: The Noodle Bowl, owned by Madalena and James Jezierski; and People’s Pressed, a juice bar.

Bernert said the exterior of 139 Union will have “an all-new, historic façade that will wrap around” the building, along the Acushnet Avenue side.

She said the cost of the entire project, including acquisition of the building, is about $2.3 million. Funding has come from several sources, including a deferred-interest, $1 million MassDevelopment loan announced in August.

WHALE will accept donations through Patronicity, a civic crowdfunding platform online. People also can learn more about the project and how to contribute by calling WHALE at 508-997-1776.

The upcoming push for $50,000 more — or $100,000, with the match — will include efforts to gather input from the community. From 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 3, WHALE will host an information session about the Co-Creative Center, to gather input on what local artisans might want to see in the maker space.

That event will be at Groundwork, in the Quest Center on Purchase Street.

“We have a lot of designers that work here who have expressed interest in utilizing the maker space,” Groundwork co-founder Dena Haden said.

Talks about shared memberships and other collaborations are under way, Haden and Bernert said.

“I think it’s going to be a great asset for the community — for makers, artists and designers. I think it’ll be a great hub to have in the middle of downtown,” Haden said of the Co-Creative Center. “It might lead to more graduates from the art school staying in town, if they can utilize the shop and share facilities.”

Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT

SMAST celebrates expansion with topping off ceremony, hardhat tours and bay views

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NEW BEDFORD — Officials from across the state talked about what a game-changer the new marine sciences expansion will be for UMass Dartmouth and the region during a topping off ceremony in the South End on Monday.

The 76,000-square-foot building will double the capacity of the School for Marine Science & Technology on South Rodney French Boulevard and create a marine campus for the state when it opens next year. It will continue to provide responsible research to support fisheries, marine life, environmental stewardship and confront issues related to climate change, officials said.

The event represented the completion of the steel framework with the unveiling of the final beam signed by several in what Dean Steven Lohrenz called “a unique partnership.”
The $55 million project is on track and and under budget, he said, thanks to the cooperation between the the UMass Building Authority (UMBA), project manager Hill International, construction manager Bond Brothers, architect Ellenzweig Associates, and the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) that will have space on the third floor.

“This building is a very eloquent statement that we are taking charge of our faith in the future. Our work in marine research and prudent stewardship of that relationship is a win-win for the environment and the students and scientists here,” said interim Chancellor Peyton R. Helm who said he hoped to be at the ribbon-cutting next year.

“Today’s milestone comes at a time when federal regulations continue to unfairly restrict our hardworking fishermen. SMAST’s commitment to developing sound science and marine data will play a major role in reducing this unfair burden,” said state Sen. Mark C. W. Montigny, D-New Bedford, in a statement. He led the legislative effort for state funding and authored the 2008 state bond bill that provided $25 million.

The new building will add to the adjacent existing one on Clark’s Cove and bring more than 150 people of SMAST and DMF together to engage in education, research and policy related to commercial fishing, coastal preservation, ocean observation and climate change.

‌‌Coastal and marine-related activities are critical to the economy and quality of life for the commonwealth and many in the state and beyond don’t realize the crucial role SMAST and the nation’s top fishing port plays, officials said.

“The advancements that will be achieved here will benefit our economy and enhance our quality of life,” said Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, D-New Bedford.

The project is another example of the unprecedented investment being made in the peninsula, like the new Taylor and Hannigan schools, the South End Public Safety Center being developed and the Harbor Walk and Cove Walk projects on the hurricane barrier, said Mayor Jon Mitchell.

“This facility, its growth and success are a big part of our metropolitan economy,” he said.

More than 70 people attended, including state officials from Mass. Fish and Game, UMBA, and SMAST founding dean Brian Rothschild.

Many of them were given a hardhat tour of the building that commands a striking view of Buzzards Bay.

Follow Auditi Guha on Twitter @AuditiG_SCT