Pleasant Street Mills - One Stop For Growth Site Readiness
May 8, 2023
Pleasant Street Mills Future Vision Community Meeting - May 30, 2023 at 5:30 p.m.
The Planning Department, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, DPW, MassDevelopment, property owners, and VHB wants to gather public input from residents and business owners to help establish a vision for the future of the Pleasant Street mills. The Community Meeting will be held at the Keystone Mill beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday May 30, 2023.
“We were recently awarded $175,000 from the Commonwealth’s Community One Stop for Growth for MassDevelopment to help develop a renewed shared vision for the mills and a plan to enhance critical access to the rear of the mills, access parking opportunities and create a cohesive wayfinding system to harness and direct visitors to the existing businesses. The upgraded infrastructure is needed to both support the continued buildout of vacant spaces in several of the buildings and to support existing businesses and successful programming which has made Easthampton a destination”, said Mayor LaChapelle.
This project will enable the City to create 25-75% design plans to upgrade the sole access points to the rear of the mills to support the continued build out of vacant mill building space. The project will also create an updated community vision for connections to adjacent neighborhoods via the Manhan Rail Trail (including identification of a preferred location for a pedestrian bridge over Lower Mill Pond), access parking opportunities and create a wayfinding system.
Eastworks was the first to begin the transformation of the mill buildings with the creation of upper floor housing units in 1997. The City has been focusing on the revitalization of the Pleasant Street mills since the 2002 Urban Rivers Plan. Since then, many of the ideas envisioned in that plan have been completed:
- CDBG funds were used to repave and replace infrastructure on Pleasant Street in 2005.
- Millside Park was created in 2008.
- A multimillion dollar MassWorks grant was completed in 2015 which included theinstallation of infrastructure and parking to activate the rear of the mill buildings. Thistransformation allowed for the opening of two breweries, a salon, a cannabis dispensaryand other commercial tenants.
- In 2018, activation of Millside Park began with the creation of MillPond Live music series.
- In 2019, the City joined ValleyBike share and installed a kiosk behind the mills along the Manhan Rail Trail.
- In 2020-2022 the adjacent mill complex at 1 Ferry Street began a $40 million dollar private renovation supported by a $3.5 million dollar MassWorks grant.
“Through continued programming by the City, entrepreneurs, mill owners, and business owners the area is now thriving. Each mill owner has invested significantly into the successful transformation of the mill district through private investment, careful tenant selection, and true commitment to the full revitalization of these historic buildings. Now the area maintains active programming through existing businesses that continue to draw visitors to the mill district - so much so that the vehicle and pedestrian access to the rear of the mills is no longer adequate”, said City Planner Jeff Bagg.
The Community Meeting will be held at the Keystone Mill beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, 2023 and will include a brief presentation and opportunities to review maps, provide input on vehicle & pedestrian safety improvements, wayfinding signage, connections to the Manhan Rail Trail and opinions on the value of a pedestrian bridge over lower mill pond. A second meeting will be held in late summer/early fall to review conceptual plans.
In June 2022 the Planning Department submitted an application to the Commonwealth’s Community One Stop for Growth grant program. We are pleased to relay that we recently received word that we have been granted $175,000 from the MassDevelopment Site Readiness Program. The project includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Creation of concept level master plan for the neighborhood and access way improvements
- Completion of a concise community engagement element to affirm a community vision
- Preparation of 25-75% design plans and pricing for access improvements to the rear of the mills
The project seeks to leverage the upgrades to infrastructure, access, and wayfinding to support and spur anticipated continued private investment within the privately owned mill buildings.