Owners preparing to sell Ann & Hope mill

Owners preparing to sell Ann & Hope mill

The Ann & Hope mill in Cumberland sits mostly empty as plans are formulated for its redevelopment.
Other projects around Cumberland see progress

CUMBERLAND – Longtime owners of the 1886 Ann & Hope mill, where the Ann & Hope Outlet Store closed for good last year, have said they now have an active purchase and sale agreement with another party to sell the property, according to town officials.

Planning and Community Development Director Jonathan Stevens said the news represents a shift from last October, when members of the Chase family were indicating that they planned to move forward with redevelopment of the mill. Now, he said, they are planning to sell the property to a company that specializes in this kind of project.

As far as he can tell, said Stevens, the plan would still be similar to what was previously proposed for the mill’s adaptive reuse, with mostly residential units and some commercial uses mixed in, including some type of restaurant or brew pub in the separate brick boiler house.

“Every indication is that they’re going to proceed with what was proposed before,” he said, with architect on record, ZDS, still being in place. The development plan appears to still be in place, he said, it’s just the entity expected to carry it out that would change. “We need to figure out exactly what it is, but the concept’s still the same.”

There’s a certain period of due diligence involved, said Stevens, and the town has pledged to work with the new company “until they’re either in or not.” Officials are planning to get together with the mill’s owners next Thursday, April 29, for an update on plans, he said.

The town is waiting on new filings for a zone change, master plan, and comprehensive plan amendment.

Town Council members have said they would like to see more of a true mix of businesses and residential units than what was previously proposed with some 200 residential units as the primary use, citing concerns about the mill complex generating increased education costs in town if the vast majority of the old mill is converted into residential spaces.

Stevens said the town fully realizes how important it is to weigh all potential benefits and negatives as they proceed through the approval process for the old mill.

For the Lonsdale and Cumberland area, this “could be one of the largest modern redevelopments in the town’s history, so we’re committed to doing it right” and having it be a place that attracts people from outside the neighborhood and outside Cumberland. Hopefully, he said, there will also be some spinoff investment as part of this major redevelopment, stimulated through this project and the complete reconstruction of nearby Broad Street.

Ann & Hope, founded in 1953, was a retailer that ended up serving as the model for the development of Walmart, pioneering practices now common in big box stores. The company was named after the wives of the founders of the Lonsdale Company. The old department stores closed 20 years ago, but outlet shops would survive for another two decades until the pandemic of 2020. The old mill building covers about 500,000 square feet on 15 acres of land off Broad Street and Ann & Hope Way, all for $4.79 million in property listings.

Here are some updates on some other local projects, according to the Department of Planning:

• Mayor Jeff Mutter and town staff met with the new owner of the Naushon Mill on plans for a mixed-use residential project.

• The town and BETA Group have begun negotiating design options with the Environmental Protection Agency and a polluters group on the Peterson Puritan OU2 Superfund site as they look to one day create a new town park and recreational amenities there after it is cleaned up.

• Using a $100,000 DEM grant, the Department of Public Works is managing construction of the new Epheta Park in Cumberland Hill.

• And architect GZA is working with the DPW on the Albion Town Dump testing, remediation, capping and closure project.