Former International Paper Mill in Erving sees no offers as deadline looms

The pump station at former International Paper mill that was built in 2021.

The pump station at former International Paper mill that was built in 2021. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The old pump house at the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

The old pump house at the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving. 

Inside of the former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill in Erving. 

The former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill in Erving. 

The former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill in Erving. 

The former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill in Erving. 

The former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill in Erving. 

The former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill in Erving. 

The former International Paper mill in Erving.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

By LIESEL NYGARD

For The Recorder

Published: 02-23-2024 3:46 PM

ERVING — The former International Paper Mill’s third attempt to find a developer is nearing its deadline, and there’s yet to be interest, while demolition remains “on the table,” according to Town Planner Mariah Kurtz

The $1.49 million property at 8 Papermill Road was built in 1902 and and closed in 2000. It now consists of eight buildings constructed over the years. A developer purchased the property from International Paper, then stripped the interior of the buildings, after which it sat unused, according to Kurtz.

After the new owner didn’t pay taxes, the town of Erving seized the property in 2014. Since then, the town has conducted feasibility studies and evaluations before posting a formal Request for Interest (RFI) in fall 2021.

Since 2022, three requests for proposals (RFPs) have been submitted. The first received no proposals. The second RFP was released last August, and Kurtz said there was one response during that time “but it didn’t meet the minimum requirements so it was rejected.” The third RFP’s deadline is March 21 and so far there’s been no offers.

“Over the last year nothing has changed,” Kurtz said. “We’ve put it out multiple times just to get interest and had some developers express interest and so we released them again … If no one submits anything then we’re in the same position that we’re in now.”

Kurtz said if there is no interest in the property, further discussion between the Selectboard, Finance and Capital Planning committees would be necessary.

If nobody wants the property, then demolition is a possibility, Kurtz said. Last April, Erving residents showed support at a public discussion for a $3.7 million override paired with a $600,000 Site Readiness grant from MassDevelopment that would fund a near-full demolition of the vacant complex.

If Erving decides to move forward with the proposed override, residents would see an increase of $2.45 per $1,000 of property value in their tax rate for one year, while the commercial tax rate would increase by $4.03 per $1,000 of value. This funding option would minimize the payment window and avoid drawing from Erving’s capital stabilization fund.

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The funding and demolishing of the mill would first have to be approved at a Town Meeting. The project could take approximately a year to complete, according Kurtz.

Concerns over the property’s safety, insurance and development potential have been some of the reasons for making demolition a key priority in recent years.

In 2020, Erving conducted remediation of asbestos and other hazardous materials through MassDevelopment’s Brownfields Site Cleanup program. The town also invested about $85,000 while MassDevelopment provided $200,000 in a recoverable loan for the project, which was focused on the removal and abatement of transformers and asbestos.

According to a February 2021 hazardous building materials assessment, asbestos was found throughout some of the floors, walls and window frames of the mill. Kurtz said the building’s roof has not been tested yet because the town wants to wait until a definite plan is put in place before they “begin poking holes” in the roof’s material.

A pump station to service the property and retrofit of the force sewer main to convey wastewater from the site also was constructed in 2021, after Erving secured $500,000 in MassWorks funding for the design, permitting and construction of the project, according to the study. The previous equipment was abandoned and without maintenance for over two decades and was sized for the waste volume of a paper mill. Future improvements can be made to support the mill as a mixed-use building.

Throughout the years, the building has been broken into and vandalized. In the first building, there are reports of water and fire damage.

The building sits on 42.26 acres of land alongside the Millers River, near Route 2, Route 63 and Interstate 91. The total project area equates to roughly six acres.

Over the 98 years that the mill was running, buildings were added on, making some sections newer than others. Some of the buildings also have more levels than others. Of all eight buildings, Kurtz said she’s in favor of keeping the old pump house that’s separate from the mill located near the back of the building.

“It actually goes all the way down to the river,” Kurtz said. “That is one of the buildings that I have proposed that even if we do full demolition that we keep .. .you’d never be able to rebuild it. It’s practically in the river. I think that it’s small enough that if the developer wanted to reuse it, it wouldn’t be too expensive to rehab it.”