Nonprofits interested in developing former mill in Erving

  • The Community Builders proposed site plan for the former International Paper Mill complex in Erving. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

  • The former International Paper Mill in Erving. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/10/2021 3:32:27 PM
Modified: 12/10/2021 3:32:01 PM

ERVING — Two nonprofits are interested in developing the former International Paper Mill into a complex that would include affordable housing and commercial space.

National nonprofit The Community Builders Inc., which has an office in Northampton, submitted an official notice of interest in November.

Rural Development Inc., the Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority’s nonprofit development affiliate, also expressed interest, but felt unequipped to send a formal response at the time. Neither plan outlined whether the town would be responsible for any costs or demolition.

According to The Community Builders’ development plan, the first phase of the project would demolish all buildings on the site except for Buildings 2 and 8. The developers would install a “river walk” and 60 units of affordable housing in Building 2. In Phase 2, The Community Builders would renovate Building 8 to house auxiliary recreational space, add more driveway parking, extend the river walk, and construct a new building for either residential, commercial, industrial or mixed use.

“We believe that the site has the potential to provide residential rental units necessary to support Erving and the surrounding area’s populations who are currently facing a housing crisis and lack of affordable options in a competitive housing landscape,” Director of Real Estate Development Rachana Crowley wrote in The Community Builders’ proposal. “The site’s proximity to the village of Millers Falls and all its amenities, as well as the various employment, education and human service opportunities in Greenfield makes it an attractive place to potential residents.”

Meanwhile, Rural Development Inc.’s plan involves installing 40 affordable housing units featuring one, two or three bedrooms, 20 for-sale condominiums, and a potential 20 more mixed affordable and market-rate rental units in the project’s third phase. Buildings 1, 3, 4C and 4D would be torn down.

Rural Development Inc. expressed interest in converting Building 7 into commercial space. Concepts include installing a restaurant, brewery, coffee shop and/or gallery.

“The site lends itself well for a destination retail experience,” Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Gina Govoni wrote to Town Administrator Bryan Smith. “The rear of the property has the greatest potential to utilize the industrial elements and structure to accommodate a commercial use. Its proximity to Building 8 and the terraced outdoor space would make for an attractive destination-based eatery or venue.”

Assistant Town Planner Mariah Kurtz said either development opportunity would benefit the town by eliminating blight, offering public open space opportunities, combating housing shortage, increasing affordable housing, potentially bringing in commerce, reusing a brownfields property, and strengthening the link between Erving and Millers Falls in Montague.

“Erving has previously only had commercial or industrial interest expressed for this property,” Kurtz wrote in an email, “so getting two residential submissions is of note.”

Erving plans to open the request for proposals period 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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