RiverMills at Chicopee Falls Project


The US EPA awarded the City of Chicopee another Brownfield clean up grant (2013 round) for the remediation of Regulated and Hazardous Building Materials in the old Uniroyal Administration Building, preparing it for reuse or demolition. In 2012, the US EPA awarded the City of Chicopee four brownfield grants, three for remediation of hazardous building materials for Uniroyal Buildings 33, 7 and 42 in order to prepare them for demolition. Each grant is for $200,000.00 and requires a City matching share of 20%. The City will demolish most of Buildings 7, 33 and 42 as part of the remediation project, due to the danger of attempting abatement in those severely decayed structures. A contract has been executed with Costello Dismantling of West Wareham, Ma, and work on these areas will commence in December, 2013.

As of January 28, 2014, the RiverMills at Chicopee Falls Project has progressed to the point where all demolition and clean up planned for Facemate has been completed. The picture to the left shows the rail line along the front of the former Facemate property, bordering West Main Street, after removal of hazardous soil and debris, replacement with clean fill and hydro seeding.

On April 8, 2013, local officials hosted federal and state officials for the groundbreaking of the new RiverMills Center, a 21,000 square foot senior center on one of three former Facemate parcels. Among the officials present were the Region 1 Administrators for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (Curt Spalding) and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (Barbara G. Fields), Mass DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell, Asst Sec. for Gateway Cities Jen Murphy and Mass COA Executive Director David Stevens. Several local legislators, City Councilors and City officials also attended. In July, 2013, a traditional "topping out" ceremony was held to commemorate the completion of all structural steel. The resident bald eagle attended both ceremonies.

On November 21, 2013 the cupola was installed at the RiverMills center.

RiverMills Center is the City's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure, targeting Silver Certification. LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based program that provides third-party verification of green buildings that demonstrate leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

The energy saving features designed into The Center have also resulted in rebates from Chicopee Electric Light and Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. The CEL rebate is $185, 280.00 and will be delivered to the City on completion of the Leed certification and commissioning process. The Columbia Gas rebate is still in process, but will be approximately $20,000.00. 

Mayor Bissonnette stated, "We are building a center to serve the needs of the City's population and we are building it green and sustainable to set a high standard for the redevelopment of the Uniroyal and Facemate sites. We are determined to see RiverMills Center be the first LEED Silver certified building in Chicopee."
Construction is expected to take fourteen months and will be completed by Fontaine Brothers, Inc. of Springfield, MA. Strategic Building Solutions (SBS) of Agawam, MA is serving as the Owner's Project Manager.

The Center is designed as a split level structure melding with the site's challenging topography. The design is a contemporary building reminiscent of Chicopee Falls' manufacturing history yet open, inviting and welcoming. Several fixtures from the Facemate buildings have been incorporated into the design, including two fire doors and several of the columns from Facemate No. 1.

The building's exterior is composed of traditional brick and concrete composite panels with a re-created tower serving as the front entrance's focal point. Large windows, mimicking the old Facemate mills will wrap the building. The Center will have a large multi-purpose room capable of accommodating up to 300 people. Other programmed spaces include an exercise studio, fitness center, health services, a commercial kitchen, complete wireless computer access, a game room, art studio, multiple lounges, café, library, TV lounge and billiard room in addition to further amenities that were identified by the design team as crucial offerings unique to Chicopee's Senior Center.

The Center will be accessible at both levels, with garden level parking for 240 vehicles. To the east, RiverMills Drive will serve as the Center's main entrance while providing public access to future development at the adjacent redevelopment parcel and access to the Chicopee RiverWalk, planned to terminate at the Center.

The RiverWalk, once completed will provide a pedestrian and bicycle link between Chicopee Falls and Chicopee Center along the old rail line. 

This photograph is looking at Building No. 1, now gone and the footprint filled with crushed and processed demolition debris. This parcel, as well as the southern parcel (The site of the "Baskin Building") will be offered to the private redevelopment market sometime in 2014. In October, 2013 the City issued a Request for Letters of Interest to gauge interest in and proposed uses for these parcels prior to undertaking disposition of the properties.  

At their board meeting in April, 2012, MassDev approved the City's request to "split" the RiverMills project into two priority projects and agreed to fund an additional $2 Million dollars for assessment and remediation of hazardous materials. The City has used all available MassDev funding for Facemate.

The City has hired the BETA group as environmental and structural consultant in order to provide City officials with the necessary information to ensure Michelin completes the clean up as required by law on the former Uniroyal site, and to assess and lead the remediation of the ground contamination on the Facemate portion of the site.

Buildings 1-6 on the Uniroyal site have been removed to the foundations. In September, 2012 the City caused the foundations to be broken up to enable access to the areas under the slabs for environmental assessment and, if necessary, remediation. Testing has revealed some issues covered by the MCP and Michelin's contractor is responding. GZA (Michelin's Abatement Contractor) has filed work plans with the Environmental Protection Agency for a number of other items to be done in 2014, including clean up of some conduits, tunnels and drains and PCB contaminated building components. Michelin's clean up will proceed until the property has been cleaned to the extent necessary to permit the redevelopment of the Uniroyal property. The picture shows Building #7 which will be abated and demolished this winter and early spring.

BETA coordinated a supplemental site investigation on the Uniroyal buildings to supplement the environmental analysis and regulated building materials survey prepared by CDW. This document provided the starting point for preparation of bid documents for the removal of the regulated building materials. The survey report forms the basis for development of hazardous building material abatement and demolition specifications. This process is complicated by the large proportion of the site which remains under dangerous and decaying buildings. Funding for this survey was through a $50,000.00 grant from the U.S. EPA administered by the Massachusetts DEP. Seen above left is part of the decayed "lower tier" at the Uniroyal property. The EPA grants awarded in May, 2012 will be used to abate the hazardous building elements identified by this survey as part of the demolition.

In October, 2010 the RiverMills at Chicopee Falls Redevelopment Project received a priority position when Lt. Governor Timothy Murray's Brownfield Support Team announced that RiverMills had been added to the team's project list. The Brownfield Support Team is a multi-department, multi-jurisdictional group consisting of, among others, the Lt. Governor, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Attorney General, Mass Development, MassHistoric Commission, MassHighway, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous City of Chicopee departments. The Team is designed to identify and troubleshoot administrative and bureaucratic issues causing delay or working at cross purposes, and will provide a roadmap for resolving these types of issues as they inevitably arise.

The City arranged with The Iron Horse Preservation Society to remove rails and a number of railroad ties from the rail spur running from Grape Street to the former Uniroyal property and then within the former Uniroyal and Facemate properties. The rail and tie removal is complete and IHPS has spread processed material to provide a temporary surface suitable for walking. The photo shows the condition of the RiverWalk near Uniroyal as of February 1, 2012.

The City has hired Milone and MacBroom of Springfield to design the remainder of the RiverWalk and its connections to Szot Park, the Chicopee Public Library and at Ellerton Street. The TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan) for the Pioneer Valley, including Chicopee, has $1.6 million dollars earmarked for construction. This will connect the former Uniroyal property with downtown Chicopee via a beautiful and sustainable walking/biking trail along the Chicopee River. The City expects to reuse a large amount of granite from the Uniroyal and Facemate sites to be part of the slope stabilization portion of the RiverWalk Phase II. There is a link on the Community Development page to this project.

At their August, 2012 meeting, the Chicopee Conservation Commission approved a plan for remediation of invasive species that have taken over portions of the proposed path. That work started in September, 2012 and will be ongoing for several years.

The City has hired a number of other professional firms to assist in the redevelopment process. Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. is the Master Planner. Their final report is available on the documents and forms section of the Community Development page.

A group of Cornell Graduate students have also completed work on a redevelopment vision available in the documents section. The City of Chicopee thanks Lee Pouliot, Declan Keane, Christian Gruber, Chris Hardy and Chris Horton for their hard work and inspired vision of factory village in the future.

The documents and forms section of this page has a summary of ongoing and completed projects associated with the redevelopment entitled RiverMills at Chicopee Falls Project Highlights as well as the periodic demolition and other updates.There is also a Community Development page dedicated to the RiverWalk Phase II.