Home Posts tagged Westmass Area Development Corp
Daily News

LUDLOW — On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera were joined by state and local officials and representatives from Westmass Area Development Corp. to announce $2,834,850 in funding to nine projects — including Ludlow Mills, the only Western Mass. project of the nine — in the sixth round of Site Readiness Program awards.

The Site Readiness Program is part of the Community One Stop for Growth, a single application portal and collaborative review process for grant programs launched in January to make targeted investments based on a development continuum. The program was established to help municipalities, private-sector businesses, and nonprofit economic-development entities advance prime sites for large-scale industrial and commercial use. The funding will be used for a variety of pre-development work, including planning studies, feasibility studies, master planning, environmental work, strategic land acquisition, and site improvements, increasing the development potential of nearly 665 acres across the Commonwealth.

In this round, Westmass Area Development Corp. is receiving $650,000 that will fund the design of a new access road, new water and sewer infrastructure, survey work, and parking areas as part of plans to redevelop the 130-acre Ludlow Mills site at 100 State St.

Also on Tuesday, the Baker-Polio administration celebrated Ludlow’s second One Stop award of $250,000 through the Underutilized Properties Program. The funding, which was also awarded to Westmass Development Corp., will be used for capital improvements to the historic stockhouses also within Ludlow Mills.

“Through the One Stop, our administration can continue helping cities and towns move forward with development projects that are critical to their future economic success,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “The Site Readiness Program supplies key stakeholders with the financial assistance they need to prepare key sites for revitalization.”

Added Polito, “now in its sixth year, the Site Readiness Program complements other state programs like the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, MassWorks, and the Underutilized Properties Program that support communities looking to advance their economic-development goals. Cities, towns, and their partners can easily access information about these resources through Community One Stop for Growth, a new simple and streamlined application portal for the Commonwealth’s community-development grant programs.”

Administered by MassDevelopment, the Site Readiness Program aims to boost Massachusetts’ supply of large, well-located, project-ready sites; accelerate private-sector investment in industrial and commercial projects; and support the conversion of abandoned sites and obsolete facilities into clean, actively used, tax-generating properties. Its first five rounds provided nearly $13.6 million for 58 projects in almost every region of the Commonwealth, increasing the development potential of 5,073 acres across Massachusetts. On Jan. 14, the administration signed new economic-development legislation providing $15 million in reauthorizations for the Site Readiness Program.

In One Stop’s inaugural round, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development received 267 expressions of interest from 178 communities through the new, simplified process. For this year’s awards, 196 grant applications received a total of $88.7 million for projects in 122 communities.

“The Site Readiness Program that we included in the economic-development bill is an essential component to getting underutilized properties back to productive use and generating economic growth in our communities,” state Sen. Eric Lesser said. “The Ludlow Mills is an excellent example of what is possible with smart state investment that can catalyze broader transformations across our Commonwealth.”

Ludlow Select Board Chair William Rosenblum noted that “the town of Ludlow looks forward to our continued relationship with Westmass Area Development. We welcome the opportunity to revitalize the Ludlow Mills in a manner that will benefit the taxpayers of Ludlow.”

Westmass President and CEO Jeff Daley added that “Westmass is grateful for programs like Site Readiness, as this allows us to unlock the capabilities of projects that will have a long-term, positive impact on the Ludlow Mills, Ludlow, and the Commonwealth,” and that “these dollars are the first step at redeveloping the largest brownfield project in New England.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Generally, unless there’s a power outage, the weather does not impact digital production. But this year, all the rules were thrown out the window. While snowflakes were still flying during GCAi’s planning phase for the new Westmass Area Development Corp. website, it was both the heat and wet weather that proved to be challenging while capturing the high-quality visuals that the project required.

The critical component of the project was Westmass’ expansion of its traditional development role. The method to achieve success would be to get that expansion documented through not only text, but video interviews, high-quality images of past and current projects, and even drone video, scheduled carefully to miss the aforementioned raindrops.

“For decades, Westmass has sought to benefit the communities and residents in our region through the development of business and industrial parks,” said Jeff Daley, president and CEO of Westmass. “Today, it is our continued goal to help provide communities and private developers with the tools and resources they need to do smart development. The new website allows us to showcase the exciting projects Westmass is undertaking, as well as promote our efforts to advance real-estate and economic-development opportunities throughout Western Massachusetts for years to come.”

News of the ongoing production leaked before the launch, and what Westmass was up to, as well as some of the businesses and projects impacted by its work, could not be contained. The GCAi Digital PR team helped coordinate coverage, which resulted in the article “Westmass Strives to Become a More Impactful Force in Economic Development” in BusinessWest.

GCAi has now turned the keys to the new website over to the Westmass team, who continue to make updates and add content from their new offices in Monarch Place, adjacent to GCAi’s new perch in Tower Square.

Opinion

Editorial

Over the past decade or so, one of the better stories to emerge in this region has been the development of the Ludlow Mills complex in Ludlow.

Acquired by Westmass Area Development Corp. in 2012, the mostly vacant set of jute mills and storage buildings has become home to an eclectic mix of businesses, and is now the site of a residential complex, a rehabilitation hospital (Encompass), and a host of small businesses that cross several sectors.

But this solid business story had been tempered somewhat by the very public, highly visible discord (there’s a diplomatic term) between Westmass and one of its more popular tenants, Iron Duke Brewing.

A disagreement over language in the lease eventually escalated into a bitter and protracted court fight, one that led to hard feelings, plans to relocate the business in Wilbraham, and a new and popular product — Eviction Notice IPA.

For a while, it looked like this court battle was going to end like so many before it — with no one really winning, despite how the ruling came down. It looked for all the world like both sides were going to be out perhaps hundreds of thousands in legal fees, Westmass would be out a good tenant, and Iron Duke would be saddled with the expense and challenge of essentially starting over in a new town and new brewery.

And then … things changed. Not overnight, but as the story on page 6 recounts, they did change.

Amid the heavy baggage from the lawsuit and the disagreement that led to it, the two sides agreed to sit down and talk. And from those talks came some progress and eventually a path to an agreement whereby Iron Duke would not only stay in its home at the mill — one of the century-old stockhouses that stored raw material — but expand within that site and perhaps own it someday.

An agreement that didn’t seem at all possible just 18 months ago.

Maybe there’s a lesson in all this — one about communication and listening and getting to understand both sides of a disagreement, on the theory that the more people know and the more people talk, the better the odds they can work out their problems.

Maybe the lesson is to try to do that before egos take over and before the lawyers get involved because, after that happens, it becomes that much harder.

We’re not sure about the lessons. We are sure that what was a good story for the region is now an even better story. Iron Duke will stay where it is, expand, and make the mill complex a better, stronger destination, one that might help attract more hospitality-related businesses like it.

Iron Duke will soon have to change its name to avoid another expensive lawsuit, this one from Duke University as it seeks to protect its brand. But that’s another story.

This story has what certainly appears to be a happy ending, after a plot twist as welcome as it was — that’s was — unlikely.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Westmass Area Development Corp. board of directors has elected Antonio Dos Santos its new chairman, replacing Carol Campbell as her term expires.

Dos Santos joined the board in 2011 and has served in numerous roles, most recently as vice chair. He is a partner at the Springfield-based law firm Crear, Chadwell, Dos Santos & Devlin, P.C., specializing in business, commercial real estate, and commercial lending.

Dos Santos brings years of leadership and commitment to the Westmass board as Campbell’s term concludes after three challenging years. Amid the unexpected passing of former President and CEO Eric Nelson in 2019 and hiring new President and CEO Jeff Daley in October 2019, Campbell’s management and commitment to Westmass has ushered in a strong financial and operational base for success in the years to come. She will assume the role of immediate past chair and continue to serve on the executive committee.

“Westmass has been developing projects in Western Mass. for over 60 years. I am honored to take on the role of chairman of the board for such a distinguished and recognized entity,” Dos Santos said. “Westmass continues to grow its portfolio of development opportunities, in particular the Ludlow Mills preservation and redevelopment, an exciting project which is quickly approaching $100 million in investment and represents significant economic development for the region. We are poised for growth in the years ahead, and I am excited to do whatever I can and whatever our board can to ensure Westmass is still doing business in the next 60 years.”

Daley added that “the team at Westmass is grateful for Carol’s stewardship over her three-year term as chair, and we look forward to working with Tony and the entire board as Westmass continues its long tradition of delivering quality real-estate development projects in Western Mass.”

Commercial Real Estate

Developing Story

Jeff Daley, CEO at Westmass Area Development Corp

Jeff Daley, CEO at Westmass Area Development Corp

Jeff Daley boasted a long career in development, with experience on the municipal, state, and private realms, when an intriguing opportunity came about last year: the role of CEO at Westmass Area Development Corp., which oversees a number of newsworthy projects in the region, most notably Ludlow Mills. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to connect municipalities and developers on a larger scale — and help generate the sort of economic activity and job creation that makes communities strong.

Jeff Daley was working for the state in 2005 when it created a district improvement financing (DIF) program, essentially a tool that enables towns to capture incremental tax revenues from new private investment to pay for public improvement projects.

A decade later, while leading his own development firm, CJC Development Advisors, he put that knowledge to good use on the Longmeadow/East Longmeadow line. It’s the sort of experience — working with muncipalities and developers — that he brings to his latest role as CEO of Westmass Area Development Corp., which he took on last summer.

The project he referenced was a campus of sorts being developed by two entities — Baystate Health, which was building a multi-practice healthcare center on the Longmeadow side, and Berkshire Healthcare, which was building East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center on that town’s side of the line.

“I looked at this as a challenge. Westmass has been around for 60 years, and certainly there’s still a lot of good left that needs to be done — there are a lot of good projects out there.”

“They needed about $3 million in public infrastructure to make those projects work,” Daley recalled, referring to the extensive road, water, and sewer work undertaken a few years ago along the Dwight Street corridor. So CJC put together a DIF by which new tax dollars from the two developers’ private investment paid for the debt service for the $3 million worth of public infrastructure.

“It was the first municipal DIF in the state,” he recalled. “And it’s a huge success. Those projects would not have come to fruition, either the larger Berkshire Health building out back or the Baystate Health facility up front. They just couldn’t make it work if they had to put $3 million into public infrastructure.”

Daley wants to bring that problem-solving spirit into his current role leading Westmass, where his responsibilities include negotiating corporate acquisitions, land sales and leases, and incentive proposals; applying for grants; and marketing resources and development services to organizations and businesses considering investment in the region, as well as evaluating opportunities for new industrial-park development and coordinating federal, state, and local economic-development grants and resources.

“If there are projects that need to be done, communities may not have the staff on hand to manage projects, and we can provide services for the development of projects,” he told BusinessWest. “And, in concert with that, we’re working with developers. They may not know all the programs that are out there, and those are the kinds of programs I want to instill at Westmass. When communities and/or developers have questions about development and how to go about programs, I want them to think of Westmass first. And if we can’t do it, we’ll tell you we can’t and set you up with who can.”

After all, development is good for communities, in many ways. But his passion is more organic than that, because when Daley sees development, he sees jobs.

“I believe the creation of good, stable jobs is really most impact you can have on communities. If people are working, they have money to spend, which is good for the economy. But it’s also providing a stable environment for kids to grow up in, when mom and dad are working and able to pay the rent. I look it as more granular economic development, as opposed to just building buildings and putting people to work. It affects everybody down to young kids in our communities, and that’s important to me when we’re doing developments.”

Park Life

The former executive director of the Westfield Redevelopment Authority, Daley worked on several projects in the downtown area, which certainly needed more energy and vibrancy. He left that job in 2014 to work for a couple of construction companies before launching his own company in 2016.

“At CJC, I worked with a lot of clients, including municipalities and private developers, working on putting financial plans together for public infrastructure, commercial-development projects, and such,” he explained. “We did construction management for private developers, did a couple of urban-renewal plans, and strategic planning for those projects.”

When the opportunity arose to head up Westmass following the untimely death of its former CEO, Eric Nelson, the job seemed to mesh well with Daley’s experience and passions.

“My business was going very, very well, I had very good clients, and it was a hard decision to make,” he recalled. “But I looked at this as a challenge. Westmass has been around for 60 years, and certainly there’s still a lot of good left that needs to be done — there are a lot of good projects out there.”

Like Ludlow Mills, one of the agency’s signature projects. Last summer, Westmass announced state and federal funding to construct Riverside Drive at the rear of the complex, making the development accessible to substantially more development. The site already includes 75 Winn Development apartments in Mill 10 for those over age 55 and is host to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts.

Creating a city street behind the property creates frontage for several properties and makes it more palatable for companies to access water and sewer, which makes the sites more attractive to lease, he explained. That project is scheduled to wrap up later this year.

In all, about 35% of the 7 million square feet at Ludlow Mills is rehabbed and active. “There’s a lot of activity,” Daley said, noting that Westmass moved its main leasing office to the site in December. “Additionally, we have about 80 acres off the east side of the back road, Riverside Drive, that is high, dry, and flat. There are some wetlands, but about 50 or 60 acres that are developable out there, and by doing this new road, it’s going to get them frontage in order for us to go out and market it to companies. So that’s really exciting.”

Meanwhile, Ludlow Mills is waiting for historical tax credits on the clock-tower portion of the development, a $20 to $30 million investment that will be what Daley called “the showpiece of our investment.”

“We’re really excited about that,” he added, noting that Ludlow is building a new senior center at the site. “That’s going to be a beautiful building to showcase the property from the eastern side. So there’s a lot of momentum, a lot of people are interested, and it’s not just storage facilities; there’s a lot of jobs in there. These people are coming in and creating jobs in machine shops and other facilities that really attract businesses. This is one of our marquee projects we’re looking to grow for a long time.”

A few miles away, the Chicopee River Business Park, which Westmass has owned for 25 years, tells a different story. Harvey Industries purchased a parcel a number of years ago, but Westmass is still looking to market the mostly vacant, 170-acre complex.

“We really want to look out for the long-term benefit of the park. We are selling it as a bulk sale for 170 acres, but we’ll work with people to do what’s best for them,” he explained, noting that the location is attractive for industry, with its proximity to I-291 and the ability to get trucks in and out without disturbing residential neighborhoods.

On the other hand, Westmass’ other industrial parks — in Hadley, East Longmeadow, and Westfield — are full, Daley noted. “We continue to build parks and take on projects that benefit Western Mass., both with jobs and creating quality of life for people. That’s the endgame of Westmass; we work to get parcels ready for sale and make sure the right businesses go into them.”

Step by Step

Westmass made a real-estate deal of a different kind in December, moving its corporate offices to Monarch Place in downtown Springfield, which Daley sees as an opportunity to raise the organization’s brand and presence, while continuing its work connecting developers, municipalities, and other entities.

“We can work with towns and cities and private developers as well, and act as their economic-development arm, whether it’s putting together public infrastructure financing, putting together urban-renewal plans, putting together plans for strategic development in communities — all that is needed out there,” he told BusinessWest. “That’s the exciting part. A lot of cities and towns don’t have the ability to do that because they don’t have the staff or the means to take on those sorts of projects. We can, here at Westmass.”

He harkens back to his time in Westfield, when the city tapped into numerous funding sources to develop urban-renewal projects downtown and elsewhere.

“We just dug deep and figured out what we could do. There are more programs out there than people realize. They go about their daily business and it’s not their job to know about the programs, but Westmass can help them see what’s available for public infrastructure programs, for land deals — we can put together the infrastructure to get their project done.”

Which is good — not just for communities, but the individual families living in them.

“I believe everything good starts with people working, and the things we do to help projects get to the finish line and get developed really impact thousands of people around Western Mass. every day,” Daley said. “That’s what I’m passionate about. If people are going out to work and working hard every day, it’s a different life at home. Every little bit helps.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at businesswest.com

buy ivermectin for humans buy ivermectin online
buy generic cialis buy cialis
payday loans online same day deposit 1 hour payday loans no credit check