$50M Plan for Draper Site (Which is not related to the work shown here.)
G&U land issue
Aerial Views of the Draper Plant, 1947
Draper Menu HOME
Activity and discussion surround a vacant, massive Hopedale factory once again
Christopher Gavin --- Boston.com staff
October 9, 2020 5:22 pm
The former Draper Corp. factory in Hopedale, vacant for four decades, has shown signs of life lately.
Work crews are preparing to demolish roughly 250,000 of the 1 million square feet left of what was a powerhouse
of textile machinery manufacturing before its doors closed for the last time in 1980.
The demolition comes after the owner, Hopedale Properties, conducted a structural analysis of the industrial
complex, which rests on 77 acres and makes up a considerable portion of Hopedale’s small downtown area, in
August, according to Julie Holstrom, senior project manager at Worcester Business Development Corp.
“There was some abatement and some structural concerns that needed to be addressed in a portion of the
building,” Holstrom told Boston.com recently, adding that the section slated for the wrecking ball was of “significant
The demolition is expected to happen sometime in the next month, she said.
WBDC is one of several consultants brought on by Philip Shwachman, principal of Hopedale Properties and CEO
and founder of Worcester-based First American Realty Inc., to develop a new master plan for the property that
could spell out potential redevelopment options, Holstrom said.
The report will be the latest roadmap to possibly unlocking a second life for the site, a remnant of the small town’s
pioneering industrial past, with what local officials have long considered vital potential for shepherding economic
growth in Hopedale, where commercial property is in short supply.
In 2007, a reuse plan hammered out by officials and Shwachman outlined how the site could host a mixed-use
development with shops, homes, and offices, but the options never became reality.
Two years ago, selectmen put forth a nearly $50 million Urban Renewal Plan, which also called for a mixed-use
second act for the site, consisting of 565 housing units and 175,000 square feet of commercial space. The plan
considered seizing the property through eminent domain, sparking a lawsuit from Shwachman against town
officials and others involved in crafting it.
Shwachman, the town, and other defendants reached settlements last year, the Milford Daily News reported.
Parallel to the in-the-works master plan, Shwachman is also working with the town on Hopedale’s own master plan
for the coming years, which will take into account the factory’s future possibilities.
A recently formed steering committee for the community-centric plan held its first meeting last week. A completed
report for phase one of the plan could come by next September, Claire Bayler of the Central Massachusetts
Regional Planning Commission, which is assisting officials, told committee members.
Shwachman’s participation comes as part of the agreement he and the town reached last year, officials said
during a selectmen meeting last month.
“I … hope that this is a great, optimistic, and further evidence of a new and ongoing partnership with Mr.
Shwachman and [that] we have taken the turn on everything in the past and [are] moving forward,” Brian Keyes,
Selectmen chairman, said while appointing Shwachman at the Sept. 14 meeting.
As for the site-specific plan, Holstrom said the final report will include all options for how it can be reused. The
work will consist of not only analyzing the facility, but also the surrounding area, she said.
“We have to put all considerations on the table of what is going to make the most sense from a redevelopment
point of view, but also from a safety point of view,” she said.
Above and below - back of Hopedale Street side.
The difference that you can see between the left edge of the building in this
picture from two of them on the same date further up the page, is because this
one was taken late in the afternoon and those were taken in the morning.
What's going on here? I don't know. No one in the vicinity looked disturbed
by it. My guess is that it was probably steam. Partly obscured is the water
truck used to keep the dust down. Some of the dust, anyway. I have no
idea what would be hot enough out by the street to create all that steam. I'll
leave that up to you to figure out. It cleared up after a minute or so.
Draper factory, iconic Hopedale landmark, to be almost fully dismantled
The Milford Daily News
December 2, 2020
HOPEDALE — Nearly the entire former Draper factory complex in downtown Hopedale is now fated for
“…. we determined that, as much as we would have liked to save it, and look for a re-purposing option, the
severe deterioration and safety concerns were more than we were comfortable with,” said Philip Shwachman,
principal of Hopedale Properties, LLC, which owns the property, “and we felt that the liability was greater
than any potential benefits.”
A small, slightly more modern building at 7 Fitzgerald St., set back from the main drag, will remain standing,
possibly with a couple of other smaller structures. But all of the buildings along Hopedale and Freedom
streets, a towering wall of brick and glass that has overlooked Hopedale for more than a century, are
expected to be gone by next summer.
“It would have been nice if we could have kept a piece of it,” Selectman Louis Arcudi III said. “I’m sure that
you guys are envisioning something here … to honor the folks and residents that had worked there or family
members that worked there.”
The factory was a major employer for Hopedale and other nearby towns in the early to mid-1900s, but shut
down for good in 1980. It’s been largely vacant since.
The decision to demolish was made in at least three stages. A wing along Hopedale Street was approved for
demolition earlier this year and was razed in late summer and early fall. Shwachman said crews are awaiting
the town’s sign-off on the demolition permit for the Freedom Street wing, and that once asbestos abatement
is complete on the remaining corner, such a permit will be filed for that, too.
June is the target date for completion.
Shwachman contracted the Worcester Business Development Corp., a nonprofit that has taken on historical
projects such as Worcester’s Hanover Theatre and the Telegram & Gazette building, to redevelop the site.
“We take on projects that are not ready for the conventional market, and I can assure you that the Draper
Mills project is not ready for the conventional developer,” Worcester Business Development Corp. President
and CEO Craig Blais told selectmen this week. “It’s been proven time and time again over the years that it
needs help …. and the WBDC sits between the private sector and the public sector where we can be utilized
to bring public sector resources to the table to help the conventional market and the private sector succeed.”
Preliminary market research from the nonprofit suggests the site could be used for different types of
residences, “light” industry and open space, Blais said.
“We do not want to fool anyone or sugarcoat the process by saying some big, large employer is going to
show up in Hopedale,” Blais said. “The reality is, you are limited, access-wise, back to (Rte.) 146, back
through Milford to (Interstate) 495, but we think we’ve got it right with the type of … light industrial flex space
that has surfaced as a potential reuse.”
A plan for the site could include running connecting streets through the massive property, he added.
“The whole site originally serviced just one company with multiple activities,” Shwachman added. “There
really is no market for that, so our vision is to create a grid and multiple sites with new circulation between
the main streets of Hopedale, with smaller uses.”
Shwachman and the nonprofit plan to work with the town while a local committee comes up with a new long-
term master plan for the town, to include its downtown and the Draper property.
The town is soliciting resident input until Dec. 12 for the master plan at https://www.envisionhopedale.com/.
October 22, 2020
factory complex in downtown Hopedale this week.
Julie Holstrom, senior project manager with Worcester Business Development Corp., said further
demolition might be in the 1 million-square-foot factory's future, but it's not yet certain. Philip
Shwachman, principal of Hopedale Properties, LLC, which owns the massive property, hired
Worcester Business Development Corp. last year to come up with a plan for the site.
Professional abatement, at least some of which targets asbestos in the old buildings, is ongoing.
"At this time it looks like I do see some structural issues," Holstrom said of the side closest to
Hopedale Pond. "Certainly the abatement is really ... the primary focus at this point."
The final use for the property is not yet decided, but Worcester Business Development Corp. has
revitalized several older buildings, including Worcester's Hanover Theatre. Holstrom said she just
received the preliminary findings of a market study for the area, and is in the process of analyzing
Hopedale is also working on a master plan for the town, which will include the downtown property.
The Draper buildings occupy prominent downtown real estate, and local officials have pitched
several ideas for their reuse over the years, from housing to sports fields to shops.
"I think that we'd like to take some time to be thoughtful in our approach," Holstrom said.
Holstrom said abatement will probably continue through the end of the year, and further plans are
not likely to be available before at least the beginning of 2021.
Alison Bosma can be reached at 508-634-7582 or email@example.com. Find her on Twitter
In the early years of the Draper business, Joseph Bancroft, brother-in-law of Ebenezer and
George Draper, was a major factor in building up the business. In this picture, behind the
excavators tearing down the remains of that business, are three Bancroft houses. The house
on the left belonged to Lilla Bancroft Bracken Pratt. In the middle, with the Community House
cupola and flag showing up behind it, is the house that once belonged to Lura Bancroft Day.
On the right is the house that was originally the home of Joseph and Sylvia Bancroft.
Click here to go to a page of photos of demolition
of the Freedom Street side of the Draper plant.
Demolition of the Draper Plant
Hopedale Street Side - South End
To go to a page of photos of demolition of the
Freedom Street side of the Draper plant, click here.