Demolition of former Draper Mill startedOct 27, 2020 10:09AM ● By Susan Manning
After sitting vacant for nearly four decades, the former Draper Mill is finally seeing some movement.
The broken windows and empty hallways of the buildings, which sit on 77 acres in the center of Hopedale, at one time employed thousands of people.
In an effort to breathe new life into a central location in town, demolition of 1/4 of the complex started this fall and is expected to take six months, according to Worcester Business Development Corporation.
Hopedale Properties Principal Philip Shwachman contracted to have a 250,000-square-foot swath of the property taken down because of “significant structural and environmental concerns to redevelopment efforts,” according to the WBDC.
“Mr. Shwachman initiated that abatement and demolition activities of approximately 250,000 sf of the southern portion of the 1,000,000 sf complex in August 2020. The rationale for undergoing these activities was due to significant structural and environmental conditions that were posing safety concerns. To date, the abatement of this section of the building has been completed and interior demolition has commenced,” said Julie Holstrom, senior project manager at WBDC.
The work is focusing on the portion of the former mill that faces Hopedale Street.
According to the WBDC, the town filed a mixed-use plan for the site in 2018 to revitalize 139 acres. After a legal battle in August 2019, Schwachman settled with the town. He is currently working with the town to come up with a redevelopment plan for the site.
“The WBDC has been working with Mr. Shwachman, the property owner, to complete a master planning process, including a market study, for the Draper complex. We have secured some of the preliminary market study findings and believe that these findings will help to inform future development concepts for the complex,” said Holstrom.
The mill manufactured power looms for the textile industry until 1980, when business was lost to competition overseas and the mill closed.
According to Holstrom, Schwachman is working in close collaboration with the town and CMRPC to develop a plan for down the road.
“Mr. Shwachman is working with the town and the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) on their overall Master Planning process to develop a comprehensive plan for Hopedale. This larger Master Plan process can and will include the Draper complex as part of the conversation,” she said.