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Case Studies - The Mill Revitalization District (MRD)

View case studies conducted on the The Mill Revitalization District (MRD) module.

Clock Tower Place, Maynard, Massachusetts

Maynard, Massachusetts is a small town, 5.7 square miles with a population of 10,000 residents, located approximately 25 miles west of Boston.

Beginning in the 1840s through to the present, the town's economic base has been dominated by what is today a 40-acre, 1.1 million square feet complex of thirteen red brick mill buildings. The complex has consistently served as a center for the production of goods and provision of services. However, the town found itself in crisis with a non-operating mill in 1998.

The emblematic clock tower serves as a community landmark
The emblematic clock tower serves as a community landmark

In 1998, the mill was purchased by the Wellesley/Rosewood Maynard Mills L.P (WRP), a company with experience in adaptive reuse projects. WRP used Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreements to help finance improvements to the buildings. As a result, between January 1998 and July 2000, it leased approximately one million square feet that was occupied by 85 different companies.

Some inherent advantages with the mill buildings were that they were in relatively good shape, fiber-optically connected, and the complex had no environmental issues. The project gave Maynard its economic center back in the form of a revitalized mill district. Between 1,500 to 2,000 people work in the Mill today.

New additions were designed to fit surrounding aesthetics
New additions were designed to fit surrounding aesthetics

Whitin Mill, Northbridge, Massachusetts

Northbridge, a suburban community of 6,300 residents, is home to a large number of mills, most notably the Whitin Mill in the village of Whitinsville. The majority of mill buildings in Northbridge are no longer used to their full potential, however, most continue to serve as important incubator spaces for small businesses.

Original Whitin Mill building
Original Whitin Mill building

The one-acre site contains a complex of five buildings totaling 36,570 square feet.

The Whitin Mill site is currently being redeveloped by its owner, Alternatives Unlimited Inc., as a mixed use center to serve as:

  • artisan space
  • performance and conference space
  • a restaurant
  • a riverside community plaza
  • retail stores
  • a living museum
  • affordable apartments
  • the program center for Alternatives Unlimited - an organization servicing people with disabilities.

Alternatives developed its vision for the mill through engaging the community in an open charrette process. The mix of uses planned for the mill reflect the community's input as well as Alternatives' goal of expanding its own program space. The project seeks to transform real estate capital into social capital by creating a community magnet that will bring together diverse groups of people through its unique mix of uses.

Whitin Mill Redevelopment Plan, Northbridge, MA. Source: Alternatives Unlimited
Whitin Mill Redevelopment Plan, Northbridge, MA. Source: Alternatives Unlimited

Not only will the redevelopment enhance community objectives, it will also enhance environmental objectives though a commitment to smart energy technology. Alternatives Unlimited will draw the energy for the Whitin Mill from hydropower - the source of energy at the mill for many generations - as well as solar power from photovoltaic cells and power from geothermal heat exchange. This suite of renewable energy sources means that the Whitin Mill will be not only be energy self-sufficient, but will also be able to sell power back to the electric company. It is estimated that the green technology will result in $100,000 in annual energy savings and sale of credits.

Wood Mill, Lawrence, Massachusetts

Lawrence is among the first planned industrial communities in the United States.

Built in 1906, the Wood Mill is located in downtown Lawrence directly along the Merrimack River. Being almost 1/3 of a mile long and containing over 1.3 million square feet, it is one the largest mill buildings in the world. Redevelopment plans for the mill include a mixed use community made up of residential lofts, artist studios, retail, restaurants, and entertainment.

The Wood Mill resembles a horizontal syscraper. Source: Monarch on the Merrimack
The Wood Mill resembles a horizontal syscraper. Source: Monarch on the Merrimack

The $200 million project is entitled "Monarch on the Merrimack" and includes:

  • 600 luxury residential units
  • 90,000 square feet of shopping and dining
  • a spa
  • a movie theater

The project is also committed to "green building" practices. The "Monarch" will be powered by a geothermal heating and cooling system instead of fossil fuels. Additional sustainable features of the building include reclaimed building materials, energy efficient windows and appliances, and low-consumption toilets. The redevelopment places a high priority on shared interior spaces that blur the line between the indoors and outdoors. Features include a garden lobby, an indoor waterfall, extensive indoor plantings, and rooftop terraces with gardens.

Several green building practices have been integrated into the redevelopment. Source: Monarch on the Merrimack
Several green building practices have been integrated into the redevelopment. Source: Monarch on the Merrimack

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