$600K state grant to aid demolition of old mill buildings in Erving

  • The former International Paper Mill in Erving. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/16/2021 2:53:26 PM
Modified: 12/16/2021 2:52:52 PM

ERVING — The town has received a $600,000 Site Readiness grant “to advance redevelopment of the former International Paper Mill,” as announced by the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Tuesday.

The Site Readiness Program is part of the Community One Stop for Growth, described by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development as “a single application portal and collaborative review process for grant programs launched in January 2021 to make targeted investments based on a development continuum.” Erving was one of nine recipients of funding statewide, and the only one in Franklin County.

The funding was allocated for demolition of five buildings at the former mill complex described in the office’s press release as “irreparably damaged or not suitable for reuse … to eliminate safety hazards, making the property more attractive for redevelopment and creating space for a proposed access road.”

The award follows recent expressions of interest by two nonprofits — The Community Builders Inc. and Rural Development Inc. — looking to develop the property as a site for affordable housing and other uses. Should the property be developed by one of these nonprofits or another organization, however, the project would need to involve a commercial or industrial aspect to qualify for the grant it has been allocated. Both nonprofits proposed mixed-use facilities, as opposed to simply affordable housing.

While she expressed gratitude “that the Site Readiness Program exists,” Assistant Town Planner Mariah Kurtz said the grant award fell short of the town’s hopes. Erving initially applied for a grant in the amount of $933,500, the assessed cost of selectively demolishing six of the complex’s buildings, in the spring.

“It’s not going to meet the cost that we asked for and everybody knows that, including MassDevelopment,” she said.

Kurtz said, however, that the town might not need the funding at all. Should the town receive a successful proposal from an organization to develop the property and cover the cost of demolition on its own, the funding will be either returned or repurposed.

Repurposing, though, would require the town to come up with a way to use the funding elsewhere within the same project. There is currently no timeline or due date for when the grant may be officially accepted or spent.

“We’re still working with MassDevelopment to figure out the best timing or use for the funds,” Kurtz explained, adding that the grant is “flexible” within the bounds of International Paper Mill redevelopment.

Erving plans to open the request for proposals period for the property on Jan. 26, with a due date of March 30. The town will review proposals in April before selecting one and beginning contract agreements in May.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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