It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since the One Ferry Street development project in Easthampton, Massachusetts, got underway. All of the community support we have received throughout the process has made the project extremely rewarding, and time has flown by.
Now that part of the mill complex has opened for commercial and residential use – and one of the six buildings is fully leased – it seems remarkable that a little over two years ago, One Ferry Street was nothing more than an abandoned, dilapidated factory site. Fortunately, developer Michael Michon introduced an ambitious $43 million plan for a combined 310,000-square-foot build and improvement project and was able to make it happen. His vision for a reinvented property included 152 housing units, pedestrian catwalks across the freshened-up canal, a new bike trail, a major facelift to the waterfront, and a new roundabout at Pleasant, Lovefield and Ferry streets.
City Planner Jeffrey Bagg was in full support of the development. “This project is fully in line with our planning vision,” Bagg said, and we applied for a $4.1 million MassWorks infrastructure grant that would partially fund the public portions of the project, of which we were granted $3.5 million. He was backed by state Senator Donald Humason, state Represenative John Scibak, Congressmen Richard Neal, Secretary Jay Ash, Fire Chief David Mottor, Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and numerous business groups and local officials.
One Ferry Street has long been a headache for city officials, as the abandoned complex encouraged vandalism, trespassing and fires. Previous efforts to revitalize the property had all fallen flat; Daniel Messier and Peter Ward had planned to develop high-end condos at the site in 2005, but project never came to fruition. Despite other successful public-private efforts to redevelop local 19th century mills in Easthampton since the 1990s, the Ferry Street project had been unsuccessful at getting off the ground through three mayors’ terms.
Now, we are so excited to finally be steaming ahead with the redevelopment project. The developers prior experience renovating nearby Mill 180, which now houses residential and commercial tenants, made him the perfect candidate to get the One Ferry Street project done.