Quarter of Hopedale’s Draper Mill to be Demolished

Plans are still in place to revitalize Hopedale’s roughly 1-million-square-foot Draper mill. But first, about a quarter of it needs to be demolished, according to the owner.

Hopedale Properties, the complex’s owner, said Wednesday it has identified a 250,000-square-foot portion of the mill posing what it calls significant structural and environmental concerns to redevelopment efforts. It has entered into a contract for the work, which faces Hopedale Street, the main stretch running through town.

The work is expected to be done within six months, according to Hopedale Properties, whose principal, Philip Shwachman, is working with the Worcester Business Development Corp. to plan a redevelopment of the site.

The dilapidated former Draper Corp. building, vacant for roughly four decades the center of the small town of Hopedale, has until now hardly moved any closer to visions of a new development.

The town filed a mixed-use plan for the site in 2018 to revitalize 139 acres and cost an estimated $50 million. The plan relied on nearly $30 million in state and federal funding to be viable. The project, called Draper Falls, would have knocked down all but 73,000 square feet of the mill building 

The town sought to potentially take the property by eminent domain but ran into a legal battle with Shwachman, the CEO of Worcester-based First American Realty, who owns much of it. Last August, Shwachman settled a lawsuit with the Hopedale Housing Authority, local developer Lobisser Building Corp. and others who planned to develop the property.

First American Realty said Wednesday it is working with the WBDC on a master planning process and Hopedale town officials are working to update the community’s own master plan to include finding uses best suitable to the Draper site.