Developer moving full speed ahead on Plymouth Rubber

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Following a nearly decade-long rezoning effort that culminated this spring with the creation of a new mixed-use overlay district, the owners of the Plymouth Rubber property on Revere Street are eager to move forward with plans to rehabilitate and develop the former downtown factory site.

A view inside the former Plymouth Rubber factory site

A view inside the former Plymouth Rubber factory

While completion of the entire project is still several years away — and that is if all goes according to plan — the developer, Canton Holdings LLC, is already in the process of readying the site for demolition and has laid out an aggressive timeline for the remainder of the calendar year.

According to Bernie Plante, who is overseeing the development of the property per a joint venture agreement with Canton Holdings, the present focus is on the abatement of asbestos and other hazardous materials in the vacant industrial buildings on the site. Once that work is completed, they can then proceed with demolition and soil remediation, with the goal of having both jobs completed by Thanksgiving so that they can begin work on the $6 million worth of infrastructure improvements that are included as part of the development agreement.

“It’s a big undertaking just getting it prepared to be developed,” acknowledged Plante, a New Hampshire real estate developer who won over town officials and residents with his commitment to the project and willingness to compromise.

Plante said they hope to be ready to start new infrastructure, such as roads, sidewalks and waterway improvements, in the “late fall or early winter.” In the meantime, Plante said they will also work concurrently on the renovation and restoration of the historic Revere barn and rolling mill, which they will donate to the town upon completion along with 2.2 acres of surrounding open space. That parcel, along with an additional 6.85 acres that the town has agreed to purchase using Community Preservation Act funds, will be cleaned up and landscaped and combined to form a new Paul Revere Heritage Site.

Plante said the barn, which was constructed in the 1840s by the Revere & Sons Copper Company, will be fully restored using historically accurate materials and then relocated to an area closer to the rolling mill (1850). The plan, he said, is to get the barn on the new foundation “over the next several months” while also stripping the interior of the mill.

“We’re hoping to get both buildings in good enough condition so they are closed in and tight so that we can work on them over the winter,” he said.

Regarding the mill in particular, which the Massachusetts Historical Commission has hailed as a “noted landmark of industrial design for its period,” Plante said the developers will aim to restore many of its original features, including arched doorways and a roof monitor lined with windows that will help to bring natural light into the structure. They have also agreed to build up to 2,000 feet of interior walls, although the exact location of those walls will depend on the recommendations of the Building Use Committee.

Established under the auspices of the Paul Revere Heritage Commission, both the Building Use Committee and the related Open Space Committee are “temporary” and will consist of representatives of relevant town boards as well as citizens at large. The Board of Selectmen was expected to appoint the members of the “permanent” commission and the two committees at its meeting earlier this week.

Meanwhile, progress is also being made on the engineering and design of the development itself, which will be constructed in phases over a period of roughly six years.

Plante said he recently met with the project engineers and they should be ready with site plans by the beginning of October. He said the initial site plan review and permitting process will likely take several months and will focus on the main site, which includes 60 age-restricted rentals, 19 for-sale townhouses and 102 for-sale flats, as well as 4,000 square feet of commercial space along Revere Street. An additional 90 for-sale flats, located at the northern end of the property, will be part of a future site plan application.

As for the proposed private daycare on the site — originally planned to be on the Neponset Street side but moved at the request of residents — Plante said they still intend to construct it although they have not yet decided on a location. He said he plans to follow up with town leaders and will stay in contact with the daycare operator, who would “like to get in there” as soon as possible.

With respect to the proposed residences, Plante said that Canton Holdings has already been approached by a number of prospective buyers who are interested in developing portions of the site, and while they have not made any commitments, they are planning to keep their options open.

“We see the greatest value in getting the site as clean and as prepared for new construction as possible and then take a look at our options,” he said. “If someone comes along at that point we’d give serious consideration [to selling a portion] if the price is right.”

However, even if that were to be the case, Plante stressed that Canton Holdings would still be bound by all of the terms of the development agreement and they would continue to be the “go-to people” on the project.

“At minimum,” he said, “I see our role as a prime developer there, taking care of the [District Improvement Financing] matters, working with the town and installing all the infrastructure improvements, and being the main developer of the site.”

To view a copy of the development agreement between Canton Holdings and the town of Canton, including plans for the development and infrastructure upgrades, visit www.town.canton.ma.us/554/plymouth-rubber-redevelopment-exhibits.

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