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Town may have to wait an extra month before closing on Lunt property

  • The EPA is going to test the site of the former Lunt Silversmith property on Federal Street. <br/>Recorder file photo

    The EPA is going to test the site of the former Lunt Silversmith property on Federal Street.
    Recorder file photo

  • The EPA is going to test the site of the former Lunt Silversmith property on Federal Street. <br/>Recorder file photo

GREENFIELD — It will probably be a month later than planned before Greenfield owns the former Lunt property, but the mayor and his economic development director said that’s OK.

Robert Pyers, the town’s economic development director, said the Bankruptcy Court, which is handling the sale, postponed its approval until the town hears from the state attorney general’s office.

Pyers said the town has asked the attorney general to issue a covenant so that the town couldn’t be sued over contamination on the Federal Street property, which happened well before it takes ownership.

He said the town plans to clean up the property as soon as it takes ownership, but wants to make sure no one can sue Greenfield while cleanup is going on.

Pyers said it will cost between $600,000 and $800,000 to clean the property so that someone can build on it.

He said the cleanup will be paid for with financing and grants from MassDevelopment, a state agency. He said there is even a possibility that the federal Environmental Protection Agency would step in and pay for some of the cleanup like it did on the former Bendix property on the Laurel Street extension.

“This postponement isn’t that big a deal,” said Pyers. “We planned on closing on the property in late March, and instead it might be mid to late April. We’re confident we’ll get the covenant and move forward as planned.”

Pyers said the good news about the postponement is that it gives the town even more time to identify all of its funding sources and be ready to go as soon as it takes ownership.

He said the town plans to clean up the property, because it will make it much more appealing to potential developers when the town begins marketing the former factory.

Pyers said the town is currently identifying which parts of the buildings should be demolished versus renovated.

He said the next step for the town, which it will take even before it hears from the attorney general, will be to have an engineer do an analysis of the older building there.

Pyers said the engineer will determine what the phases of demolition should be so that it can be put out to bid as soon as the town owns the property.

“Once we have been issued the covenant and the Bankruptcy Court has approved the sale, we’ll be able to close within 15 days,” said Pyers. “We’ll be able to move ahead rapidly.”

The town will buy the property for $1.5 million. Town Council will vote to approve that amount at its meeting on Wednesday.

Martin and Pyers aren’t concerned about the council voting against the purchase, because it already unanimously voted the down payment of $75,000.

Martin hopes to put the property back on the tax rolls, while preserving the baseball fields there, something residents have asked him to do since the town started talking about Lunt a couple of years ago.

Marjorie Lane Kelly, the town’s finance director, told councilors last month that the town intends to borrow short-term and pay interest only for the first two years. Then, she said, the town would renegotiate a loan.

The town and Lunt both had appraisals done on the property to come up with a selling price. The town’s came in at $2,270,000 and Lunt’s came in at $2,170,000.

“There will be some impact to the taxpayer,” said Kelly, but added it would be “negligible” for the first two years and would not be huge after that. She said exact figures are yet to come.

Martin and Pyers said they will eventually look to the Town Council to rezone the property, which is currently zoned general industrial. They would like it to be zoned limited commercial-urban residential so that it is consistent with the surrounding area.

Martin and Pyers said there is a possibility the town could lease space in the newer buildings until the town finds someone to redevelop the property.

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