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Marketing South Deerfield

Pickle factory site will be part of developers conference

SOUTH DEERFIELD — In an effort to attract business to the downtown, town leaders are working on two fronts, promoting both the former Oxford Pickle property site and Deerfield Industrial Park lots.

On June 26, the Oxford property on Jewett Avenue will be featured at the Western Massachusetts Developers Conference in Springfield.

The conference aims to connect regional leaders and economic development specialists with brokers, site selectors, investors and others interested in learning about development opportunities in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties.

The Oxford site is part of a curated tour of the Pioneer Valley.

Selling the 12-acre former pickle factory site is a priority of the town and is at the heart of the town’s plans to attract business to the area.

“We’re actively engaged in trying to market the Oxford property,” said Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness. “We feel strongly that it is important and vital for the downtown. We want good jobs and activity in the downtown.”

The town is trying to revive its efforts to market the land after it solicited proposals from interested developers last November and received none by the January deadline.

The town owns the property. Ness said the town plans to be selective in its potential buyer, seeking a development that would benefit the town.

“We feel it would have such an impact on the downtown,” Ness said.

To help the process along, the land is within an expedited permitting zone and developers could get the permits to transfer the lot to a place of business within 180 days.

In 2008, the town purchased the property and is using part of it for a new 15,500-square-foot highway garage on four acres, leaving 12 acres for development.

The Deerfield Economic Development Industrial Corp., an independent quasi-municipal group that owns the Deerfield Industrial Park, is trying to promote available land in its roughly 73-acre park as well.

The DEDIC has two properties, totaling eight acres, for which it is getting an appraisal. One parcel of undeveloped land is in the eastern section of the industrial park. The second property is owned by resident David Rohrs and is located on the corner of Route 116 and Sugarloaf Extension. The DEDIC is getting an appraisal on that property at the request of Rohrs, who would sell it along with the first lot.

Lack of sewers

As the town looks to grow its business base, one of the issues the town faces is the lack of sewer on Routes 5 and 10.

Residents in the Central Village Zoning District in the South Deerfield area are connected to town sewer along with the Deerfield Industrial Park, Yankee Candle Co. and Channing Bete Co. Those in the commercial zone — properties north along Routes 5 and 10 — use septic systems.

Many residents and business owners who have asked for sewer throughout the years are discouraged.

“There is no incentive to promote anything up here. The town has properties available,” said Douglas Bilodeau, owner of Douglas Auction.

Bilodeau has been trying to sell two lots on Greenfield Road for two years. One lot has a 17,000-square-foot building and another is an empty building lot. The two properties are worth $750,000.

“It’s a tough market anyway. Without sewer, it makes a difference,” Bilodeau said. “I’ve had inquiries but several require sewer as opposed to septic.”

Inquiries included medical buildings and restaurants.

South County EMS Director Zachary Smith also checked out the land earlier this month. He is charged by the Board of Oversight to look at available properties for the new regional ambulance to move into.

The problem is the cost. An extension of the sewer line would involve lift stations, digging beyond 10 feet, manholes and pipelines that could cost roughly $8 million, Highway Director Shawn Patterson said.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268 On Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK

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