Draper Corp. razing gets unwanted boost; portion of Hopedale building collapses
The Milford Daily News
July 28, 2021
HOPEDALE — A portion of the massive former Draper Corp. factory complex, which is in the process of being demolished, suddenly collapsed on Tuesday afternoon, spilling hundreds of bricks near and onto Freedom Street.
The incident occurred about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, forcing Freedom and Hopedale streets to be closed during the afternoon rush, according to Police Chief Mark Giovanella. About 50-60 of the bricks, along with other debris, crashed right onto Freedom Street, he said.
The remaining portion of the affected building was then taken down to street level Tuesday night, said Giovanella, per the direction of the Hopedale Fire Department and town building inspector.
“We completely alleviated the hazard last night,” said Giovanella.
The collapse was witnessed by a motorist who contacted police, he said, adding that construction crews hadn’t yet left for the day and were still at the scene.
The incident resulted in no injuries or damage, Giovanella said. The cause is still not known.
The building is undergoing demolition for another week or so, he said.
Philip Shwachman, whose company, First American Reality, owns roughly 80 acres of the property, announced last winter that he was tearing down the entire 1.8 million-square-foot complex and planning a major redevelopment that could include housing, pedestrian-friendly shops and a bike trail that travels along the river. He had previously determined that there were too many environmental and structural problems to re-purpose the mill.
In March, Shwachman and the Worcester Business Development Corp. — which is designing a new use for the building — are pitching multiple uses for the space, from office space to a retail showroom and possibly a supermarket or restaurant.
Housing could include 400-600 units, or could be duplexes, condominiums or town homes, according to site planners. That could take at least a decade to complete, they said.
On Wednesday morning, construction crews were back at the site, which covers nearly 80 acres in the center of Hopedale.