Reuse of old Montague Public Works building to prioritize neighborhood impact

  • Montague is seeking a buyer for the old Public Works building on Avenue A, which the department is leaving by the end of fall. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/18/2020 2:54:13 PM

MONTAGUE — As the old Public Works building is transferred to a new owner for redevelopment in the next few months, the town expects to choose the buyer on the basis of whether their plans for the building are consistent with priorities expressed in a community survey.

The Department of Public Works is preparing to move to a new building, at the corner of Turnpike and Turners Falls roads, and is expected to leave the old building on Avenue A by the end of fall, according to Town Planner Walter Ramsey.

The Avenue A building is owned by the town, but will be sold after the Department of Public Works has moved out, Ramsey said.

Rather than sell to the highest bidder, Ramsey said the town instead expects to solicit proposals for reuse of the property, and to select a buyer based on the suitability of the proposal. The town will likely seek a reuse that would be consistent with the light industrial character of the area, he explained, and that wouldn’t be detrimental to nearby residential areas.

“Some care needs to be taken as to what goes there and how potential uses would be mitigated,” Ramsey said.

That goal reflects ideas expressed in a community forum in February. In discussing the future of the Avenue A southern corridor, residents at the forum said they would prefer to keep the area as a working industrial district, rather than to convert it to retail or housing, Ramsey said.

Other criteria that may be relevant may include the experience of the owner, the feasibility of the proposed project, the potential for job creation and other potentials for economic impact, Ramsey said.

The minimum sale price of the building will likely be set at $50,000, which is lower than what it would probably sell for in an auction, Ramsey said. However, he and Town Administrator Steve Ellis both noted that, by asking a lower price, the town will be able to exert greater control over the plans for redevelopment.

“The more you ask for, the less dollar value you ask for,” Ramsey explained.

The request for proposals is expected to go out by the end of October, and will likely be due in December, Ramsey said. The transfer of ownership will probably be later this winter or early spring. Ramsey said a timetable for reuse and investment in the building will be determined in the proposal process.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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