For Immediate Release - May 11, 2010

Vacant Riverfront Property in Holyoke to be Transformed into a New Commercial Development Under Agreement with AG Coakley

HOLYOKE - Acres of contaminated property located between the Connecticut River and the Front Canal in historic downtown Holyoke will be cleaned up and redeveloped as a result of a Brownfields Covenant Not to Sue Agreement that Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office has entered into with the prospective developer of the site.

The covenant agreement limits the liability related to contamination on the six parcels in exchange for the redevelopment and cleanup. The property was once home to American Writing Paper and Brown Paper Mills in the 19th and 20th centuries, but the majority of the buildings on the site have been largely vacant in recent decades. Under the agreement, Quantum Properties LLC will clean up the parcels in accordance with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) standards and redevelop them into modern industrial and commercial buildings. The parcels are contaminated with oil and hazardous materials from their industrial history.

"This agreement will result in clean up and construction jobs, and will bring new businesses to downtown Holyoke, breathing life into the local economy," said AG Coakley. "We are very pleased that the developers are not only committed to cleaning up this large tract of abandoned riverfront property, but that they also intend to preserve many of the historical elements of the property into the redevelopment plan."

"Quantum Properties was largely unaware of the agreement and protections offered by Massachusetts to developers of Brownfield sites," said MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt. "I am pleased that our technical assistance efforts and Quantum's willingness resulted in this win-win situation for the economy and the environment in Holyoke."

The parcels along this riverfront property feature hydroelectric wheels which generate power from water running between the canal and the Connecticut River through underground raceways. The redevelopment will help preserve these hydroelectric wheels, which are operated by the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department.

The redevelopment fits within the City of Holyoke's plan to revitalize historic mill buildings. The city produced a Center City Vision Plan in 2009, following a public process for identifying opportunities for economic and community development. The plan envisions a redeveloped riverfront that rehabilitates the historic mill buildings, fosters economic growth, and upgrades the canals for broader community use.

"We are very pleased that Quantum Properties is moving forward with the redevelopment of the Water Street properties. Not only will this project address the environmental concerns, it will also stimulate revitalization of the historic mills in the area and have a significant economic impact on Holyoke," said Holyoke Mayor Elaine Pluta. "We are very thankful for the efforts of the Attorney General's Office and the Covenant Not to Sue program to provide the security needed for the developer to acquire the properties."

"Holyoke has been working diligently to encourage the redevelopment of brownfields sites with assistance from the EPA and DEP with great success," said Kathy Anderson, Economic Development Director for the City of Holyoke. "We are happy to have been able to utilize this additional resource offered by the Attorney General's Office and look forward to continuing the partnership into the future."

The AG's Office is dedicated to facilitating cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated and underutilized properties through negotiating agreements that provide liability relief to those involved in the redevelopment. The AG's Office works closely with property owners, developers, municipalities and state and federal officials in cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated properties throughout the Commonwealth.

In 2008, the office amended its Brownfields Covenant Program regulations to streamline the application process for future agreements and to create new incentives to redevelop abandoned or underutilized contaminated properties. Thirty-four Brownfields Covenants have supported redevelopment at sites around the Commonwealth since the program went into effect in 2000.

Brownfields Covenants are developed through close coordination between the Attorney General's Office and MassDEP. Benjamin Ericson, Chief of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Brownfields Unit, handled negotiations for the agreement, in coordination with MassDEP Brownfields Coordinator Catherine Finneran, MassDEP Western Region staff members Ben Fish, Eva Tor and David Slowick, and MassDEP Attorneys Jane Rothchild and Lucas Rogers.