Former paper mill site eyed for mixed-use P3 redevelopment
Massachusetts – The city of Lawrence is applying for a federal brownfield grant as it envisions a public-private partnership (P3) to redevelop the site of a former paper mill gutted by several fires.
Merrimack Paper Mill
City officials took ownership of the 4.75-acre paper mill site from 2017-2019 through tax lien foreclosures. From 1866 until 2005, the property was home to a paper processing facility that produced as much as 125 tons of paper a week.
The site’s 18 buildings totaling more than 1 million square feet are vacant and in disrepair. Since closure, the property deteriorated rapidly until a 2014 fire destroyed most of the remaining building.
A new draft analysis by city consultants outlines a plan for the buildings to be demolished and the site to be remediated and redeveloped with residential and commercial mixed-use buildings as well as parking and a riverfront trail to support the adjoining Riverwalk along the Merrimack River.
Recent efforts to redevelop the site include securing a grant from the MassDevelopment Site Readiness Program to demolish the existing buildings and receiving $400,000 to remediate the eastern portion of the property to create a future connection between the Lawrence Rail Trail and the Merrimack River Trail.
The city coordinated environmental reports with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to better understand the structural condition of the existing buildings, map the extent of hazardous building materials, and assess the site’s soils and groundwater to determine the risk to public health and evaluate cleanup alternatives.