Tremont Nail master developer adjusts plans following public input

Nov 10, 2021

After hearing from the public, Bentley Companies — a Rhode Island-based developer in the process of becoming the master developer for the Tremont Nail Factory — has adjusted its plans slightly. 

For months, the town has been working to move forward with Bentley Companies as the master developer that will redevelop the property. The Tremont Nail Factory was originally built in the 19th century. As recently as 2006, steel cut nails were manufactured on site in the “steel building.” 

Wareham bought the Tremont Nail property in 2004 using Community Preservation Act funds, citing its historic importance to the town. Today, the property consists of multiple unused buildings in various states of repair and disrepair. 

In February, Bentley Companies presented its initial vision for redeveloping the Tremont property. The first iteration of Bentley Companies’ plan envisions the site with office space, retail establishments and a brewery or restaurant of some sort. The developer’s proposal also includes a waterfront community park — complete with a pier, boardwalk and kayak rentals.

As the town has continued to negotiate its land disposition agreement with Bentley Companies, the developer has discussed adding a residential component to the redevelopment.

Director of Planning and Community Development Ken Buckland said that the main adjustments to the vision for the site were to the use of the main factory building, which still contains a number of old steel cut nail manufacturing machines. 

Buckland said Bentley Companies was considering adding housing units to the main factory building, which would have involved raising the roof on that building. 

After meeting with Wareham residents, Buckland said the developer has changed course. 

“They’re no longer raising the roof on the main building,” Buckland said. “And they’re moving the residential [component] over to the upland portion of the site.”

Redevelopment Authority member Peter Teitelbaum said he was glad Bentley Companies had shifted gears. 

“It seems like height is the biggest concern of anybody in this town when it comes to redeveloping anything,” he said. “Back in 2004, when the town bought that property, people were assured that whatever happened out there, it was going to remain substantially the same in appearance.”

He said he thought the developer’s changes would make the project more appealing and “would result in a better landing” when the negotiated land disposition agreement went before the Select Board. 

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan also pointed out that the developer was presenting potential redevelopment concepts to the public rather than keeping people in the dark about redevelopment plans. 

“It’s not a ‘Well, we could do any of 52 different things out there, but we’re not going to tell you which one’” Teitelbaum said. “We have a better sense of what their plan is going forward, and I do think it’s probably time to run it up to the Board of Selectmen.”

Buckland emphasized that Bentley Companies’ plans are still in progress and will likely “be modified more in the future” as part of an “interactive process.”

After a brief discussion about the developer’s plans, the Redevelopment Authority unanimously voted to recommend the negotiated land disposition agreement to the Select Board. 

Select Board chair and Redevelopment Authority member Judith Whiteside said the board would take it up at a future meeting — likely on Nov. 23.