The City Council on February 16, 2016 approved an order for $277,700 from Mayor Kos for preliminary design, final design, survey and easement work, permitting, and bidding for improvements to city utilities intended to support the redevelopment of the former Lyman and Cabotville Mills located in the West End District of the city. These funds are reimbursable through the $2.64 million MassWorks grant which was awarded to the City in 2015. It requires the City to initially fund the design and construction.
The West End is home to two of the City’s most significant industrial complexes, the former Cabotville and Lyman Mills. Both complexes (the Mill District) were targeted as redevelopment priorities as part of the West End Brownfields Area-wide Plan (AWP) completed in 2012. Last year a local developer secured ownership of the Lyman Mills and intends to advance construction efforts to convert the Mill into 80-110 live-work loft apartments of approximately 800 square feet per unit. These loft apartments are planned to be rented at market rates and would represent the first major private investment in the West End neighborhood in decades. The developer intends to have these units begin renting in June 2017.
As the Lyman Mills project advances, potential exists for the project to catalyze the redevelopment of the Cabotville Mills. A much larger complex, plans to convert the Cabotville Mills stalled in recent years, but include the potential for 240 apartment units and additional commercial/office space.
The City recognizes the significant potential in both conversion projects to spark neighborhood revitalization. Through this proposal, the City intends to address all infrastructure deficiencies that would hinder the advancement of either project. As the Mills are located adjacent to one another, completing all required upgrades would be both cost efficient and result in the least disturbance for the neighborhood. Infrastructure upgrades required to support these projects include the following:
- Water System Modifications/Improvements: includes the removal and replacement of obsolete and mechanically deficient original water lines and appurtenances and the resolution of a public safety threat. Currently, the drinking water system is fed off a cast iron pipe that runs within the adjacent canal and often is exposed when the canal is drained. Should a break in the pipe occur, there is the risk of non-disinfected water flowing into the pipe thereby contaminating the drinking water system. The project would discontinue use of the current cast iron pipe and replace it with 1,800’ of new 12” ductile water main on the south side of the mill properties with connections to existing water mains on Depot and Springfield Streets. New water lines, branch feeds, valves and eight hydrants would be installed on the mill properties to serve the needs of both projects.
- Sewage/Storm Drainage Modifications: includes the on-site separation of a combined sewer/stormwater system. Work would include the installation of sewer manholes, sewer lines and connections to the existing system on Depot, Front and Springfield Streets.
- Pump Station Improvements: includes upgrades to an existing pump station located adjacent to the mill properties (north, near the Chicopee River). The existing pump station is expected to have the capacity to support the anticipated redevelopment off both mill properties, however, system upgrades and replacement of key components are required to ensure the system functions appropriately. Upgrades include pump and valve replacements, replacement of sump pump discharge, bubbler system, valves and regulators and other upgrades.
- Electrical Improvements: includes the installation underground electrical service for both mill properties. The underground system would begin at existing facilities at Front Street, move across the canal to a switch gear pad with 175’ of new electric lines installed to service the Lyman Mill and 300’ to service Cabotville.
The proposed improvements would ensure adequate service of all public utilities to both mill properties, while upgrading derelict systems that current pose public safety risks. Further, the City would negotiate easements with both mill owners to maintain ownership and access over the newly upgraded utility systems.
“This is the beginning of the project that will lead to some major infrastructure improvements in the West End,” said DPW Superintendent Jeff Neece.
“This preliminary work paves the way for the larger MassWorks project to begin,” said Mayor Kos. “These improvements are the first in a generation here in the West End and will allow the Lyman Mills to undergo an extensive redevelopment. As Governor Baker said last fall, this is a game changer for Chicopee.”