Posted: 10/26/2021 17:50:52 PM
MONTAGUE – The selection committee discussed opening the Strathmore Mill 11 for proposals after receiving interest from the owner of the former Southworth building, Tom Cusano.
The Old Strathmore Mill is considered by many to be an icon of the town, with its potential redevelopment being a hot topic in the community for years. The city has owned the building since 2010, when it took possession of it for back taxes. Last year he started a cleanup worth $ 450,000, part of which was funded by MassDevelopment. However, the stand-alone factory building would still require major renovations to become operational.
City planner Walter Ramsey said Cusano, a New Hampshire real estate developer who purchased the old Southworth building in December 2019, would be a suitable candidate to develop the building due to his current involvement in the factory buildings. of Montague. If he were to acquire the property and undertake renovations, Cusano said he had two potential tenants interested in occupying the space, each of which are paper products and packaging companies whose names remain confidential. Cusano hopes to keep his plans in line with the public’s desire to preserve the beloved historic aesthetic.
Ramsey said at Monday night’s Selectboard meeting that discussions regarding Cusano’s interest in purchasing the Strathmore began in May. This reception of interest, combined with concerns about the building’s structural integrity and limited appeal to potential buyers, inspired the Selectboard to consider opening the building up to proposals.
“The longer it stays as it is, the more deterioration will occur,” said Selectboard Chairman Rich Kuklewicz. “Part of me says we have an interest and it seems to match what’s going on in the Southworth building and it may be worth getting some proposals.”
The next necessary step in pursuing a possible sale would be the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) and the execution of a land development agreement. While the city believes it is necessary to act quickly, the common consensus within the selection committee was that as long as Cusano was interested, there would be at least one strong candidate to lean on.
âHe has shown that he has the capacity and the means to do the job,â Kuklewicz said. âHe’s improving the building (Southworth). We see positive efforts in this. I think we should keep moving forward.
Cusano said that if he were to acquire the building, he would be prepared to make a “huge investment” of $ 1 million to $ 2 million to make the building “usable.” He added that one of the advantages he has is the possibility of extending the utilities of the adjacent building to help.
âIt’s almost like part of our property already,â Cusano said.
On a personal level, Cusano said he and the public have a common goal: to preserve an iconic piece of Turners Falls history.
âI have a passion for old brick factory buildings, so restoring these buildings isn’t just about dollars and cents,â he said. âI think what we want to do is consistent with the goals of the community. ”
Contact Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]