Saturday, November 21, 2015

Your Standard Empty Plant

From Dave Brigham:

I've written a lot about Waltham, the former mill city in eastern Massachusetts, because there's a lot to cover. The city is known for a) the Boston Manufacturing Company, the "first modern factory in the United States," according to the Waltham Museum's web site; b) the Waltham Watch Company, which made the "first watches with interchangeable parts and the first 100% American-made watch," according to the museum; and c) the Waltham Manufacturing Company and other companies that, during the early part of the 20th century, produced bicycles, automobiles and auto parts.

None of those companies exist any more, but thankfully most of their giant old buildings have been renovated and turned into condos, museum space, office space, restaurants and other businesses. Others sites still sit abandoned long after the last worker pushed a broom across the floor (see February 27, 2011, "UPDATE: What a Dump"), or have been torn down and partially redeveloped, with some outstanding environmental issues February 7, 2015, "The Price of Gas").

Six and a half years ago the Standard-Thomson factory went quiet. A manufacturer of automotive thermostats, the company moved its operations to other plants in the U.S. and Mexico. After scaling back operations for some time, Standard-Thomson had only 86 employees left in its last days. Some of them transferred to other company facilities, according to this news article.

I'll say this for the property: it looks pretty damn good for a place that's been vacant for several years. The grounds and exterior are well maintained, and I assume the same is true for the interior. Surrounded by homes on two sides and parking lots on two sides, the Standard-Thomson property is in a well-traveled area. Abutting businesses include a gym, an engineering firm and a natural gas company.

There is a shopping complex nearby with a grocery store, Ocean State Job Lot and other small stores. Additionally, there are several restaurants, a high-end produce/prepared foods market and many new apartment buildings within a mile radius.

So it's a good location for something. But what?

With 8.2 acres and 154,000 square feet of manufacturing space, the site is large, with plenty of parking. Other similar buildings in the area have been converted to storage space, office and R&D space, or torn down and replaced with big-box retailers and auto service companies.

Someday, something will happen here.

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