At their March 11 meeting, members of the Town Council approved an economic development incentive agreement with Brady Sullivan Properties of Manchester, NH for the development of the Harris Mill located at 618 Main St., Coventry.
Brady Sullivan and Partner Christopher Star, of Star Development, are currently in the process of renovating the Anthony Mill into commercial and residential space and plan to take on the decrepit Harris Mill as a similar project.
Ron DeCola of Brady Sullivan explained that the plan is to create roughly 90 2-bedroom and 66 1-bedroom market-rate apartment units, complete with a basketball court, library and clubhouse within the vacant mill that has been the target of arson and vandalism in recent years. He said that a full-time project manager has been assigned to the "Harris Mill Lofts" project and will begin work immediately, allowing future residents to move in as little as one year. He also pointed out that the units will have very little impact on the school district, with Brady Sullivan's study estimating just .038 school-age children per unit.
"This is a pretty good opportunity for the Town of Coventry, Brady Sullivan and their partner Chris Star," said Town Manager Tom Hoover. "They've been working on Anthony Mill which is going to be done by this summer and it is gorgeous. I'm sure we can expect the same fine job down at the Harris Mill."
Hoover went on to say that the renovations will not only upgrade the neighborhood that is home to the mill, but will also provide for an improved tax base town-wide.
"It'll have major spin-off effects in the next four years or so, and we will see the assessed value of the property grow from $850,000 to somewhere over $15 million," he continued.
In addition, Brady Sullivan elects to contracting local crews for their projects, bringing additional jobs to the area.
"To the extent possible, we like using local labor," said DeCola.
One of the stipulations approved within the Incentive Agreement is the negotiated assessed tax values of the property that will increase annually through tax year 2017 along with a coinciding payment schedule. The Town also agreed to receive a lump sum payment of $365,000 from Brady Sullivan on or before May 5, 2013, in lieu of the normal impact fee of $7,596 per unit in order to accelerate the process. In addition, the Town has agreed to repave Broad, Harris and/or Mill Street(s) after substantial completion of the development or Sept. 1, 2014, whichever comes first, and Brady Sullivan has agreed to repair said streets if they are damaged during construction.
Council President Gary Cote explained that residents and business owners in the area are looking forward to the project and the improvements that it will bring to their neighborhood.
"I've talked to local business owners near the Anthony Mill who are now seeing an economic boom at their businesses like they haven't seen since they opened," he said. "I can only anticipate that we can see the same thing down in Harris. It is a very economically challenged section of town at the current time and I think the mill is currently a fire hazard and a risk to human health and safety. This project will make that go away."
"We're very happy to have Brady Sullivan and Chris Star and I hope this partnership will stay in Coventry and possibly allow us to look for any other opportunities in the future," said Hoover.