Plans Unveiled for Stone Mill Transformation

Stone Mill / Rendering courtesy of The Architectural Team

Lawrence, MA – WinnCompanies has unveiled plans to transform Stone Mill, a 19th-century mill in Lawrence, into a 21st-century model of energy efficiency, thanks to the Merrimack Valley Renewal Fund established from a Columbia Gas settlement agreement led by the Baker-Polito Administration and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Healey, Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Patrick Woodcock, and numerous state and city officials recently gathered at the Stone Mill redevelopment site to showcase efforts to convert the 177-year-old structure into fossil-fuel-free, mixed-income housing that uses electricity instead of natural gas to produce heat and hot water.

Maura Healey spoke at the event.

WinnDevelopment was awarded a nearly $2.9 million grant from the Renewal Fund’s Building Excellence Grant Program to support its environmental goals for the redevelopment. The Renewal Fund was created by a 2020 settlement agreement negotiated by the Attorney General’s Office and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources following the natural gas explosions that devastated thousands of homeowners and businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover in 2018. The Building Excellence Grant Program provides funding for projects that maximize energy efficiency, electrification and clean energy, and demonstrate a long-term commitment to provide affordable housing to low- and moderate-income households.

“Energy performance goals are the most difficult to accomplish in historic adaptive reuse projects because you’re working simultaneously to both preserve and modernize a building from another era,” said Christina McPike, WinnDevelopment’s director of energy and sustainability. “We are committed to pushing the envelope at Stone Mill to demonstrate that decarbonizing assets like this is possible with the right expertise, without jeopardizing the building’s historic fabric.”

Following its renovation, the building will use approximately 40% less energy and emit approximately 30% less greenhouse gases than a new construction, energy code compliant gas-heated building. In addition, the all-electric design will create a healthier and more sustainable community for Stone Mill residents and visitors by avoiding gas emissions and combustion.

Stone Mill before construction

Embracing the goal of eliminating fossil fuels, the 149,220sf project will incorporate numerous techniques to ensure a thermally robust and airtight structure. Continuous insulation will be installed inside the walls, roof and a new elevated slab. Windows will be replaced with triple-glazed historically compliant windows. A high-efficiency heat pump for heating, cooling and hot water will serve as the HVAC system and will be enhanced with a high-efficiency energy recovery ventilation system. The building will be inspected and tested to make sure insulation depths are satisfied and air infiltration is verified, ensuring the newly transformed Stone Mill achieves long-term durability, comfort, and low-carbon performance.

When completed in early 2024, the 86 mixed-income apartments at the 2.3-acre site will be located within walking distance of a commuter rail station, several dozen businesses, a hospital, city offices, schools and recreation areas. There will be 58 apartments set aside for households making less than 60% of Area Median Income (AMI), 11 reserved for households making less than 30% of AMI, and 17 available to market-rate households.

The project will be led by WinnDevelopment project director, Angela Gile. Stone Mill’s redevelopment will also support local workforce development, with the goal of at least 30% of all construction work performed by minority and women-owned businesses as well as skilled labor from the local area.

Keith Construction, Inc. is the general contractor for the project, with The Architectural Team serving as architect, the Public Archaeology Laboratory acting as the historic consultant, and New Ecology serving as sustainability consultant. Other members of the development team include R.W. Sullivan Engineering; VHB; Odeh Engineers; McPhail Associates, LLC; Loureiro Engineering Associates, Inc.; and Axiom Partners, Inc. The project’s legal counsel is Robinson + Cole LLP.

Financing sources for the $37.5 million construction effort include the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the U.S. National Park Service, MassHousing, City of Lawrence HOME funds via the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Blue Hub Capital and Bank of America.