Neighbor: Lonsdale Bleachery set for demolition

Neighbor: Lonsdale Bleachery set for demolition

Pat Ryan, above, owner of Ryco’s, says she’s been informed that the burned Lonsdale Bleachery Mill building next door, pictured at left, will be demolished on Dec. 10. (Breeze photos by Ethan Shorey)

LINCOLN – Pat Ryan remembers the fear most of all. It was fear that the business she’d worked so hard to build, and the building she’d put so much care into, would go up in flames.

But with the exception of her sign and door melting from the heat of the flames on that Halloween night six years ago, Ryco’s Creative Sewing Center survived with little damage. Ryan recalls firefighters fighting the flames with a hose spraying out the top-floor window of her company.

That October 2013 fire at the old Lonsdale Bleachery Mill behind the Lincoln Car Wash off Lonsdale Avenue has been followed by six years of stagnation as Ryan and nearby business owners have waited for the condemned old structure located about 20 feet to the left of Ryco’s front door to be torn down.

Last week, Ryan told The Breeze, she learned that the owner, Procaccianti Companies under the name TPG Hotels and Resorts, will have the building torn down on Dec. 10.

“It’s a wonderful thing that it’s coming down,” she said.

Ryan said she met with representatives for the owner after sending a letter expressing concerns about safety related to demolition occurring so close to her building, and they gave her the date of Dec. 10. She said she plans to close her store for two days to avoid threat to her customers from falling debris.

Ryan said she’s hoping this demolition sparks future development in the area of her property on Carrington Street. She said she and many others will be out watching the proceedings on Dec. 10. Another part of the complex nearby is also expected to come down prior to Dec. 10, she said.

Town Administrator Joe Almond told The Breeze Monday that the property owner hasn’t submitted any paperwork yet to demolish the property, adding that there are “a ton” of filings to be made before it can happen. He said he won’t say it’s impossible to get all permissions by Dec. 10, but it certainly won’t be easy.

Bill Walker, Procaccianti’s asset manager for that property, could not immediately be reached for comment this week.

At Almond’s 2018 State of the Town address, Ryan asked what more could be done to help move forward with preserving and developing the Lonsdale Bleachery Mill complex, noting she saw more than 400 cars travel down the road to her building on one Saturday.

Part of the 150,000-square-foot building on Carrington Avenue was demolished after the six-alarm fire, but much of the building still stands today, with a crumbling crater at the center.

The central structure that originally burned down contained the old mercerizing building, singe and shipping and bleach shops.

Posters have been pinned around the property asking those with information about the arson fire to notify the police.

Though Procaccianti has been slow about redeveloping the mill, neighbors such as Ryan are still hopeful about a brighter future for the complex.

A subcommittee of the Lincoln Planning Board, called the Lonsdale Bleachery Stakeholders Subcommittee, met twice in the spring of 2005 to discuss the possibility of injecting new life into the complex.

The town tapped Pare Engineering to create a redevelopment plan to “strategically guide new private and public investment in the site, the future direction of reuse and the management of future growth of the site.”

With nearly half of the Bleachery buildings unoccupied, Lincoln sought to utilize federal, state and local resources to upgrade the historic site and to acquire a public right-of-way, construct public roads and replace utilities.

At that time, Town Planner Al Ranaldi said the biggest obstacle to redevelopment was making owners responsible for the outcome of environmental testing by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. A decade ago the owners balked when approached with the idea.

Back in 2004, RIDEM conducted an emergency response when oil was observed spilling from the mill into the Blackstone River. Oil still seeps from the mill from a granite block retaining wall in the former fuel storage and boiler area.

Redevelopment plans for the 30-acre site hit a brick wall after the fire. Since then, there has been no concerted effort on behalf of the property.

The Lonsdale Company of Brown & Ives began constructing the original mill complex in 1831 between the Blackstone River and the Blackstone Canal.

At least the pictured portion of the mill complex is set to be demolished, according to Ryan.