Gardner receives $80,000 for Matthews Street Business Park feasibility study
July 28, 2020 : The Gardner News, by Stephen Landry
GARDNER — It could be years away from completion, but a measure to build a new business park in the city recently took a major step forward.
Officials announced on Thursday, July 23, that the city would receive $80,000 to conduct a site feasibility study for the proposed Matthews Street Business Park, which would determine if the 140-acre site is suitable for new development.
Community Planning and Development Director Trevor Beauregard said the proposed site is located to the north of Pearl Street and Route 101, and west of Route 140 stretching from Pearl Street northwest to Matthews Street.
“The location is close to Route 2 and off of Route 140, for convenient access,” Beauregard said. “It is the only area in the city that has this access with a substantial amount of undeveloped land that support such development.”
City officials had long been eyeing the property for future development, according to Beauregard, who said prospective work on a nearby parcel did not end with promising results.
“The area we are considering at this time was identified in a study we completed a couple of years ago,” he said. “We actually performed similar work on property north of Route 140 last year and determined that the amount of buildable land did not support further investment in the project.”
Beauregard said the benefits of developing the property would include more business expansion and relocation projects in the city, a substantial boost in public and private investment in the community, an increased local and state tax base, and the ability to retain and create jobs for residents.
The money was part of $3.6 million awarded to 12 similar projects in Massachusetts through the state’s Site Readiness Program. Administered by MassDevelopment, the program aims to boost the state’s supply of large, well-located, project-ready sites; accelerate private-sector investment in industrial and commercial projects; and support the conversion of abandoned sites and obsolete facilities into clean, actively used, tax-generating properties.
Beauregard said the city is just beginning the initial steps of determining how the property can best be used.
“The funding will assist with performing the necessary work to determine if there is adequate buildable land within the area,” he said. “Some obstacles could consist of topography (steep slopes) and wetland area that would limit the amount of developable land.”
But Beauregard said city officials will remain optimistic as the first steps of the project get underway.
“We will be performing the necessary due diligence work with these grant funds over the next few months to determine whether it is feasible to move forward with the project, including more detailed plans, and potential acquisition of the parcel,” Beauregard said. “We have a long way to go — this is a good four- to five-year project to have the site ready for development.”
Created in 2016, the Site Readiness Program’s first three rounds included $6.75 million for 36 projects in almost every region of the state, increasing the development potential of 2,824 acres across Massachusetts.