Additional apartments coming to Sayles Mill complex

Additional apartments coming to Sayles Mill complex

LINCOLN – A mill conversion project at the historic Sayles Mill bleachery complex is moving full-steam ahead.

Massachusetts-based developer Dakota Partners, which is transforming the vacant mill space at 90 Industrial Circle into 45 affordable apartments, received preliminary Planning Board approval last week for an additional 22 units in an attached building at 60 Industrial Circle.

In total, the project will bring 67 new apartments to the complex, which will all be affordable under Rhode Island Housing standards.

Both buildings prior to the start of construction were vacant and falling into disrepair, with trash and mattresses discarded around the property. By next fall, the brick mill buildings will be bustling with new life.

The buildings up for conversion into apartments by Dakota Partners are part of a sprawling campus of buildings that once former the Sayles Bleacheries, opened by William Sayles in the 19th century. They have served a variety of purposes over the years, with many left vacant and underused since the bleachery closed in the 1960s. Once complete, the apartments will be called Lincoln Lofts.

Katie Cardillo, a representative for Dakota Partners, said the company expects to finish phase one of construction on 90 Industrial Circle next summer. Phase two of construction on 90 Industrial Circle, pending final plan approval next month, is expected to begin next fall.

Cardillo said the developments “will share some common outdoor spaces.”

Ahead of the Nov. 20 Planning Board meeting, the Technical Review Committee met to review the project on Nov. 14 and recommended approval.

During the review, Town Planner Al Ranaldi said the project was originally approved under the 2001 subdivision regulations and was presented by a different developer. The original plans called for the redevelopment of the 41,480-square-foot mill building at 90 Industrial Circle into 40 units, with 10 percent designated as affordable.

A use variance to allow up to 48 residential units was granted by the Zoning Board in 2006. That plan was approved in 2007 at the master plan level and at the preliminary plan level in 2014. This approval held until June 30, 2018.

The development plans now include 90 onsite parking spots, located within the “environmentally sensitive area” at the northwest of the property. The parking area will be accessed by Industrial Circle and will include the installation of sidewalks and granite curbing.

The approved project modification was to add 10 additional parking spaces within that sensitive area. The developer has met with RIDEM to begin the review and permitting process.

An area at the southwestern corner of the property will be transformed into a patio area, surrounded by a fence.

Walker Street and a portion of Smithfield Avenue would be fenced off with an opaque screening or with evergreen trees as a buffer.

The applicant will re-engineer the site and proposed underground detention infiltration system and re-submit plans to RIDEM.

Ranaldi said the Lincoln Water Commission cautioned that the water service and fire lines to the building are very old.

As of the Preliminary Plan Approval in 2104, public water was available to the building and the original applicant committed to “work closely with LWC to design and install an upgraded water service that will meet the future needs of the building.”

Dakota Partners has reached out to the LWC to work on securing a letter of water availability as well and to determine the future water service upgrades. A letter of public water availability will be required.

The company’s vice president of development, Mark Pilotte, recently contacted Public Works Director Michael Gagnon to report that the town’s existing stormwater drainage line and manholes located within the property near the project are filled with sand and debris and will not support the project.

“This portion of the drainage system needs to be replaced immediately so not to hold up our project,” Pilotte said.

Gagnon said the town acknowledges ownership of the culvert.

“I have inspected this culvert with the town engineer and we both agree that the culvert is in dire need of repair/replacement,” he responded. “The town further understands your company’s desire to have such repair done prior to your project completion so as to preserve the integrity of your finished site.”

The town has no funding for the repair this year, as such projects “need to be budgeted and put out to bid, a sometimes lengthy process,” Gagnon said.

As time is of the essence, he asked that Dakota proceed with the repair and file a claim with the town’s clerk’s office. The town will provide all necessary materials.