Ribbon Cut On New Mill Complex

By Aaron Nicodemus, Standard-Times staff writer
Date of Publication: November 01, 2006 on Page A05

NEW BEDFORD — A $34 million renovation of one of the city’s largest and most historically significant mills was launched yesterday before an assemblage of business leaders and politicians. Construction is scheduled to last 18 months.

The Residences at Wamsutta Place will consist of 250 one- and two-bedroom condominiums and apartments in the two four-story mill buildings that tower over Route 18. The new complex will include lap pools, gyms, a coffee shop and a museum dedicated “to the history of the thousands of workers who spent their lives working in this mill,” according to a press release.

Developer Stephen Ricciardi of Quincy stood before the crowd yesterday and described the process of putting the development together “like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle.” The funding pieces have all fallen into place, he said, and serious construction should begin in the next two weeks. Several work crews were already in the north building, painting ceilings, demolishing interior walls and removing old equipment.

State Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny, who had a role in securing $2.5 million in state historic tax credits for the project, called the effort “a perfect example of government and private industry working together.”

Mayor Scott W. Lang, who was unable to attend the press conference due to a family emergency, said in a statement that the redevelopment of the mill signals a rebirth of the Hicks-Logan section of the city, a collection of mills and industrial properties bounded by the Acushnet River, Route 18, Interstate 195 and the North Terminal waterfront. The building is steps away from what may one day be the city’s commuter rail train station.

“Wamsutta Place is much more than new living space in New Bedford,” Mayor Lang wrote. “There is no doubt that the redevelopment of this mill will foster further development and growth in our area and will send a positive ripple throughout our local economy.”

The project is funded by Sovereign Bank, Wainwright Bank and Capital Access.

The two buildings, built in 1868 and 1898, were home to the Wamsutta Mills, one of the most famous textile mills in the country. From the 1840s through the 1950s, Wamsutta was one of the most well-recognized brands for fine sheets and linens, as well as numerous other textile products. The mills were last occupied by Shepard-Justin Clothing Co., which manufactured men’s suits and uniforms until the company went bankrupt in 2002.

The units will feature a number of amenities including high-speed Internet, elevators, a master satellite television hook-up, stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.

The proposed 8,000-square-foot museum will feature everything from old equipment to the garments actually created on the premises.

Mr. Ricciardi also announced that while the 1875 clock on top of the south building tower will be upgraded with an illuminated “state-of-the-art” time piece that will continually be checked for accuracy by a Global Positioning System satellite. The original clock will be preserved and become part of the new museum, he said.

Among those who attended yesterday’s ribbon cutting were state Rep. Robert Koczera, state Rep. Stephen R. Canessa, City Council President David Alves and Ward 3 Councilor Joe F. DeMedeiros, as well as representatives of the city’s planning and community development offices. Also at the ceremony were representatives from Sovereign Bank, Wainwright Bank, Wamsutta LLC and Capital Access.

Contact Aaron Nicodemus at anicodemus@s-t.com