Hopedale property owners question impact of local historic districts

    By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
    Posted May 15, 2018 at 10:05 PM Updated May 15, 2018 at 10:05 PM

    HOPEDALE – The owner of the vacant Draper Corp. factory on Hopedale Street and several other properties
    being considered for local historic districts told a study committee Tuesday night that he supports historic
    restoration but is strongly opposed to the inclusion of his properties, that are hard to preserve, in current

    Philip Shwachman, principal of Hopedale Properties, LLC, and Hopedale Industrial Canter, LLC - which owns
    a total of more than 55 acres of land across three proposed historic districts - said he has great working
    relationships with town officials.

    Since he purchased the vacant one-million-square-foot building nearly 30 years ago, he has poured millions
    of dollars into cleaning up the site, from asbestos to contamination problems over the years, he said.

    Hopedale is unique, he said, but the inclusion of the former factory and his other properties will hurt the ability
    to sell and redevelop the sites that have sat unused for decades.

    “It is a huge, huge overreach to include these buildings within this district and it’s a huge overreach to include
    any vacant land anywhere in the town in any of these districts,” Shwachman told a standing-room-only crowd
    in the Town Hall’s Draper Room.

    “For the record, we oppose all of our properties, vacant land and buildings being included in any of these
    districts, and should they be included, it is the final nail in the coffin of anything ever happening to those
    buildings,” he added.

    Shwachman’s remarks were among the questions and concerns the Local Historic District Study Committee
    collected, fielded and worked to quell from residents and property owners wondering what forming potentially
    eight districts could mean for their homes and properties.

    Committee members emphasized that should special Town Meeting members vote next month to approve
    any of the districts, regulations would primarily seek to preserve each building’s architecture as they are seen
    from public ways.

    “We, in our proposals, have chosen to be very liberal in what we’re proposing for oversight,” Chairwoman
    Suzan Ciaramicoli said.

    Building design elements such as paint and windows, nor changes within a building or to the back of a
    structure, would be regulated, members said.

    Ciaramicoli pointed to the reuse of the former Draper Corp. offices at 25 Hopedale St. as the Atria Draper
    Place assisted living facility as a good example of what the districts strive to achieve.

    The proposal spans eight districts: The Hopedale Center district; Bancroft Park district; Harmony Hall-Green
    Store district; Little Red Shop district; Lake Point district; Seven Sisters district; Draper Corp. district; and the
    Hopedale Pond and Parklands district.

    Each will be proposed in a separate article at the June 19 special Town Meeting, committee members said.

    “There is always going to be somebody that doesn’t agree with it and we understand that,” committee
    member Walter Swift said. “It’s up to the town to make the final decision.”

    A second public hearing is scheduled for June 12.

    Residents Tuesday questioned how the districts could impact future economic growth on commercial
    properties, property values and how the Local Historic District Commission – the group that would later
    oversee any proposed changes to historic properties – would function.

    Resident Michael Costanza said he understands the points of view of both concerned residents and the
    committee, but wondered how the future commission would handle deciding whether changes to properties
    fit the character of a district – which the group would be tasked with deciding.

    “It’s just very tough for us to buy into it if you guys aren’t going to make the decisions and we don’t know who is
    going to make the decisions,” Costanza said.

    Ciaramicoli said the intent of the future commission would be to work with property owners on their proposed

    “It isn’t the goal to say no,” she said. “The goal is to work with the property owner to make something that fits
    in with the character of the area.”

    Mary Feeney, an attorney representing Shwachman, said the commission could have authority that extends
    beyond local zoning bylaws. The group could potentially end up regulating what’s built on vacant space
    included in districts, she said.

    “There’s no zoning bylaw, there’s no dimensional controls,” Feeney said. “You don’t know what you have to
    build ... until you design it and the historical commission can turn you down. And you don’t have a lot of appeal
    rights either.”

    Schwachman thinks the town should form at least one historic district with town buildings to start with before
    considering others, he said.

    “Once the commission is established, once there are guidelines that people can read and see ... then I think
    you can add other districts. I think to start off with 235 properties is a huge overreach.”

    Christopher Gavin can be reached at 508 634-7582

    Hopedale historic district committee to reconsider proposal

    By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
    Posted May 21, 2018 at 11:08 PM

    HOPEDALE – Following mixed opinions from residents over the potential impact local historic districts could
    have on their properties, Local Historic District Study Chairwoman Suzan Ciaramicoli believes the group will
    reconsider its proposal, she told selectmen Monday.

    Discussing the committee’s next steps in proposing the eight districts, selectmen said they support the group’
    s work but articulated their own concerns that the districts, in some areas of town, could run against efforts to
    grow Hopedale’s commercial tax base.

    The committee, Ciaramicoli said, will be reviewing input Tuesday that it received from residents and property
    owners at a public hearing last week.

    “I anticipate there will be much discussion at tomorrow’s meeting and we will have to have one or two
    followup meetings to fine tune the proposal,” she said.

    On the proposal are eight local historic districts the committee says could put the town within the boundaries
    of the new Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.

    Although selectmen noted Monday they originally asked the committee to consider public buildings at least for
    the initial district, private properties were added to the group’s proposal based off public input it received
    throughout the planning process, Ciaramicoli said.

    But selectmen, echoing concerns raised at last week’s meeting, said they worry the regulations attached to
    preserving local architecture could discourage development on commercial properties that fall within
    proposed districts.

    Selectman Louis Arcudi III, who was elected chairman Monday, said he wants to make sure officials at least
    maintain their original goal to get one district made up of public buildings on the map.

    As for private properties, he wants to understand what impact a district could pose, he said.

    “It’s just some of these other things, with zoning and potential commercial viability, just so we understand,
    does that and how does that limit some of these buildings from future use?”

    Selectman Brian Keyes is concerned certain districts could reverse the town’s efforts to bolster future
    commercial and economic development, he said.

    “My point was it lowers the number of suitors attracted to that commercial property ... I didn’t want that to

    Philip Shwachman, who owns the former Draper Corp. factory, asked the committee last week to remove all of
    his properties from the proposal.

    Collectively, Shwachman owns more than 55 acres of land – most of which is vacant – being considered for
    inclusion in some districts.

    Shwachman, through his attorney, argued the proposal as is would give a Local Historic District Commission
    control over what could be built on undeveloped land.

    Regulations, such as preserving the architecture of buildings in each district, he said, would also hurt his
    ability to sell and redevelop the former factory, which Shwachman has owned for almost 30 years.

    Selectmen raised concerns that including the Draper Corp. factory in a district could mean preserving an
    unsafe building.

    “I think there’s a lot more at least with that parcel of land that needs to be thought through,” Arcudi said. “We’re
    not saying we don’t want it, I think we just want to have some additional time to think about that particular
    piece of property.”

    Ciaramicoli said districts do not prohibit demolition of properties, but instead maintain that new developments
    keep with the general character of the historic buildings that preceded them.

    The committee will discuss the inclusion of the Draper factory at its Tuesday meeting, she said.

    “We will be discussing that public hearing and that was a big part of the discussion that evening ... we would
    be irresponsible not to,” she said.


    Hopedale committee amends historic district proposal

    By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
    Posted May 31, 2018 at 6:03 PM Updated May 31, 2018 at 6:03 PM

    HOPEDALE - After facing backlash from the owner of the former Draper Corp. factory, the Local Historic
    District Study Committee has removed the property from its historic district proposal. The switch is one of a
    few changes made in light of feedback the group received from residents and selectmen.

    A new proposal reduces the number of local historic districts from eight to six, making three of them each
    contain a single structure and another three a composition of multiple buildings, committee members said

    “We knew we had to reconsider based on the feedback from the hearing, so with that in mind we made some
    changes,” committee Chairwoman Suzan Ciaramicoli said. “It’s a very involved process that we went through
    and what you do is you reach for what you would like and you scale back based on what we think might be
    more successful going through Town Meeting.”

    Instead of including the massive vacant Draper Corp. factory, the committee opted to make the former Draper
    Corp. headquarters - the building that’s now the Atria Draper Place assisted living facility, at 25 Hopedale St. -
    a standalone district, according to a letter from Ciaramicoli to selectmen dated May 31.

    The committee has also reduced the Harmony Hall-Green Store proposed district to contain solely the
    Community Bible Chapel at 405 South Main St., committee member Beverly Carver said.

    The Lake Point and Hopedale Pond and Parklands historic districts were removed, Ciaramicoli’s letter

    Carver said the committee’s intent is to try to have as many districts approved for inclusion in the Blackstone
    River Valley National Historic Park at the June 19 Special Town Meeting as possible.

    The town could ultimately consider additional districts in the future after the initial ones are created.

    “We don’t want to create a controversy,” Carver said. “We want this to be a positive impact on the town and its

    Last month, Philip Shwachman, who owns more than 55 acres of land including the Draper factory that was
    included in the original proposal, asked the committee to remove his properties from consideration, citing
    concern local historic districts would hurt his ability to sell and redevelop the sites.

    Selectmen also worried that the districts, in certain areas, would inhibit efforts to expand the town’s
    commercial tax base.

    Carver said the conversation surrounding the Draper Corp. factory cast a shadow over the proposed local
    historic districts - an impact the committee sought to avoid.

    “We need this to be a positive thing and sometimes you have to make adjustments accordingly,” Ciaramicoli

    According to the new proposal, districts being presented for Town Meeting consideration include the
    Hopedale Center, Seven Sisters and Bancroft Park districts.

    Three districts that are single buildings are the Little Red Shop Museum, at 12 Hopedale St.; the Community
    Bible Chapel; and Atria Draper Place.

    The committee voted on the revised proposal on May 22.

    A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 13 in Hopedale Town Hall’s Draper Room.


    Hopedale selectmen seek to further tweak proposal including Draper Building

    By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
    Posted at 9:55 AM June 7, 2018 Updated at 9:56 AM June 7, 2018

    HOPEDALE - Selectmen favor an additional tweak to the town’s amended local historic district proposal to
    remove two properties owned by Hopedale Properties LLC from a district considered for the Bancroft Park

    The board supported removing properties at 80 Bancroft Park and 12 Rear Bancroft Park - both of which are
    vacant - from a proposal this week upon concern that their inclusion could impact whether the area is
    accepted by voters as a district, Chairman Lou Arcudi said Wednesday.

    The proposal, with the two properties included, risks the possibility of being rejected at the June 19 Special
    Town Meeting despite support from residents, Arcudi said.

    Philip Shwachman, principal of Hopedale Properties LLC, asked town officials last month to remove all of his
    properties from plans.

    But of the 105 other properties included, Local Historic District Study Committee member Beverly Carver said
    officials have received support from many residents.

    The two properties owned by Hopedale Properties are in the proposal because if the sites were to change,
    new development could alter the character of the neighborhood, which the local historic district seeks to
    preserve, she said.

    “The feedback out of Bancroft Park has been extremely positive,” she told selectmen Monday. “That’s why (the
    area) was included.”

    Arcudi said not removing the properties could mean the proposal, even with interest from other property
    owners, could face potential opposition.

    “If they don’t get enough votes, then everybody loses,” he said.

    Selectmen will now opt to offer an addendum to the motion to create the district on the floor of Special Town
    Meeting to ensure it will include all properties except the two owned by Shwachman, if voters approve the

    “Personally, I would be inclined to modify them off the list because number one, they’re empty and two, if they
    are zoned industrial ... I would not be inclined to have them included,” Selectman Brian Keyes said during
    Monday’s board meeting.

    The anticipated changes follow other amendments to the proposal made by the study committee late last

    Those alterations changed the number of districts from eight to six and significantly reduced the size of the
    proposed Draper Corp. local historic district by removing the massive, former Draper Corp. factory, in light of
    objections by Shwachman, who also owns that property.

    Last month, Shwachman said the inclusion of his properties in local historic districts would hurt his ability to
    sell and develop them.

    His attorney, Mary Feeney, expressed concern to the study committee that the proposed Local Historic District
    Commission could potentially regulate what is built on vacant or undeveloped land if those kinds of sites
    were included.

    On Monday, Arcudi said the board may want to consider breaking the proposed Hopedale Center Local
    Historic District into two Town Meeting proposals in order to avoid a potential issue similar to that
    surrounding the Bancroft Park proposal.

    The Hopedale Center district spans a mix of private and publicly owned properties.

    Arcudi, who said Wednesday he needs more consensus from fellow selectmen on the idea, proposed
    separating the district by public and private land.

    “I just don’t want the whole motion to get knocked down when I do believe parts of this stuff in this downtown
    area (we) actually ... need to make sure that’s in it,” he told the board Monday.

    A public hearing led by the study committee on all proposals is set for 7 p.m. next Wednesday at Town Hall,
    78 Hopedale St.


    Hopedale historic districts proposed for Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park

    By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
    Posted Apr 1, 2018 at 12:01 PM Updated Apr 7, 2018 at 8:24 PM

    HOPEDALE - After many hours spent in meetings since last June, the Hopedale Local Historic District Study
    Committee put forth a proposal that could put the town’s signature properties, quite literally, on the map.

    From the houses built for Draper Corporation employees to the factory where they worked, and from the town
    buildings company executives built to Hopedale’s beloved parklands, each are among consideration for
    inclusion in the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.

    The proposal, which spans eight historic districts, comes as officials and residents decide whether the town
    sites should be part of the boundaries of the park, established in 2014.

    A Town Meeting vote on the plans is scheduled for May 22.

    The designation aims to preserve the architecture of each one, particularly as the town juggles the balance
    between saving its past for posterity and the need for new, commercial development.
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    November 7, 2017
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    August 30, 2016

    Saving Hopedale’s character and uniqueness is at the core of the proposal, which regulates only building
    exteriors, but not specific details, according to Suzan Ciaramicoli, committee chairwoman.

    “We are not stipulating paint color or materials or things like that,” she said in a recent interview. “The primary
    goal is to preserve the architecture of the building as they are seen from a public way. And that is really

                                                                Upcoming meetings, tours

    April 7: Two walking tours are scheduled, including one through the three proposed worker-housing districts -
    the Bancroft Park Local Historic District, the Lake Point Local Historic District and the Seven Sisters Local
    Historic District - at 1 p.m. A rain date is scheduled for April 8 at 1 p.m. with both tours kicking off from the
    corner of Progress and Freedom streets.

    April 23: The Hopedale Local Historic District Study Committee will host an informational meeting about its
    proposa,l in Harmony Hall-Green Store at 405 South Main St. Two sessions will be held: one at 5 p.m. and
    another at 6:30 p.m.

    April 29: A walking tour of the proposed Hopedale Center Local Historic District, beginning in front of the
    Bancroft Memorial Library, takes place at 1 p.m. The rain date is May 6 at 1 p.m.

    The 27-page proposal extensively outlines the eight districts; seven of which span 227 properties, including a
    cemetery, and 126 structures.

    The eighth district, known as the Draper Corporation Local Historic District, makes up eight properties across
    what officials believe to be at least four structures, since some buildings on the company’s sprawling, former
    site were knocked down.

    The Little Red Shop Local Historic District would encompass the modern-day museum inside the oldest
    remaining industrial structure in Hopedale - built in 1842 - that now sits at the corner of Freedom and
    Hopedale streets.

    “The Little Red Shop is seen by many as the center of historical Hopedale, a meeting place for talks,
    Historical Commission meetings, community events, and a place to gather information and view artifacts on
    Hopedale and the Blackstone River Valley,” the proposal said. “Now a regional museum, the (shop) displays
    some of the significant artifacts that are part of Hopedale’s history.”

    The proposal also seeks to preserve housing created in the late-1800s and early-1900s for Draper
    employees, particularly in three areas.

    The residences are a shining example of the Drapers’ benevolence toward their employees that supplied
    them with not only a strong quality of life, but also a sense of community, the proposal said.

    The Seven Sisters Historic District covers 109 through 135 Freedom Street and the small duplex homes
    found on each property built between 1874 and 1889.

    Others include 20 acres of Bancroft Park - including Bancroft Park, Fitzgerald Drive, Cemetery and Union
    streets, and the Hopedale Village Cemetery - and the Lake Point Historic District that spans Lake, Progress
    and Soward streets, Progress Court and certain areas of Freedom Street, the proposal said.

    “Most of the houses in the Lake Point Group, like those of Bancroft Park, were termed ‘first class’ dwellings by
    the company, which implied they were largest in size and the highest grade of interior finishes.”

    The committee, which will send the proposal to the Massachusetts Historical Commission for a review, also
    included the remaining Draper Corporation buildings at 24 and 85 Freedom St. as well as several town
    staples including Town Hall, the George Albert Draper Memorial Gymnasium, The Hopedale Unitarian
    Parish/Draper Memorial Church, the Hopedale Town Parklands and other buildings in the town’s center.

    The Harmony Hall-Green Store Historic District includes the modern day Community Bible Chapel at 405
    South Main St. and other sites at 393 and 399 South Main St. and an unoccupied residence at 140 Hartford

    “The historical significance of this building is not simply its age and industrial connections; Harmony Hall,
    which is the name of the second floor space in the building, is the only place left in Hopedale where Adin
    Ballou, considered to the be town’s founder, preached,” the proposal said.

    “Ballou came to Harmony Hall on Sunday afternoons after completing his services at the Unitarian Church in
    Hopedale center, and, according to a follower, ’fired his hearers with aspirations for ’grand objects and noble

                                                                             Looking ahead

    The proposal comes amid a push by town officials in recent years to expand Hopedale’s commercial tax
    base by rezoning residential areas for commercial use.

    The initiative contributed to the demolition of some of the town’s oldest homes along Rte. 16 and further
    growth elsewhere in town could put certain properties in the proposal at risk in the future, the proposal notes.

    “Hopedale is ringed by Rte. 140 and bisected by Rte. 16, and has areas that are ripe for commercial and
    industrial expansion and development. Local Historic Districts in these areas may not impact that future
    growth, but will protect a unique town from losing some important structures and areas that make it the one
    and only Hopedale, Massachusetts.”

    The committee plans to host a public hearing on the proposal on May 15, before Town Meeting.


    Hopedale approves one historic district of six proposed

    By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff
    Posted Jun 20, 2018 at 8:46 PM

    HOPEDALE - Citing worries over the inclusion of private property in local historic districts, Special Town
    Meeting voters this week approved one district out of a proposed six total.

    The town-owned Little Red Shop Museum on Hopedale Street will be the town’s first and only district in the
    boundaries of the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park, after voters overwhelmingly approved it
    Tuesday night.

    But other proposals faced criticism from most residents who spoke during the two-hour meeting, with voters
    deciding to pass over voting on four of them, including the Hopedale Town Center, Seven Sisters, Draper
    Corporation Headquarters and Bancroft Park districts.

    The Harmony Hall-Green Store district, at 405 South Main St. (Rte. 140), was rejected after a standing vote
    and amid concerns that the preservation of the building would limit the property’s potential to help grow local
    business revenue.

    “We just rezoned that commercial property, trying to bring money into the town,” resident Louis Costanza
    said. “What if somebody wants to rip it down and put a business there? They have to check with you people?”

    The proposals were presented by the Local Historic Study Committee to selectmen with changes made
    within the last month to exclude the Draper Corp. factory upon a request to do so from its owner.

    Committee Chairwoman Suzan Ciaramicoli reiterated Tuesday that the districts sought to preserve the
    exterior architecture of buildings within each one, but would not regulate changes made inside them or
    materials used for outside features.

    Voters approved passing a bylaw to create a three- to seven-member Local Historic District Commission,
    appointed by selectmen, that would review proposed changes to district properties.

    “The goal of a local historic district is to preserve the building, in terms of its exterior architecture,” Ciaramicoli

    While voters promptly backed the Little Red Shop Museum district, they passed over voting on the Draper
    Corp. Headquarters - now home to the Atria-Draper Place assisted living facility at 25 Hopedale St. - at the
    request of its owners, officials said.

    Residents also decided to forgo a vote on the Hopedale Center District after owners of two buildings - the
    privately owned Hopedale Community House and Draper Gym - asked that they be removed, according to
    Selectman Brian Keyes.

    Many voters questioned what impact the district could have on private residential properties in the Seven
    Sisters and Bancroft Park districts, and some worried about voting for a measure that would impose
    restrictions on someone else’s property.

    Resident Bob Burns garnered applause from the crowd after he said the rules could mean higher insurance
    rates for property owners and could affect property values.

    “When you sell your house you’re subject to historical preservation rules as according to the committee,” he

    Making a motion to pass over the two districts with residential properties, Board of Selectmen Chairman
    Louis Arcudi III said the measure could give officials more time to hear from residents.

    “I think it gives an opportunity to see how the district works and if things are going well ... if we want to add
    other areas of town then we can do it at that point,” Town Administrator Steve Sette said Wednesday.


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