Property owner tearing down St. Regis building

Published 10:58 am Wednesday, April 16, 2014

FRANKLIN—The old St. Regis Paper Co. on Armory Drive in Franklin is to be demolished.

David DiPaolo of Norfolk, who owns the property, said a series of burglaries over the past three months prompted the decision.

In addition to vandalism, there has been theft of the internal workings, such as copper wiring. This has totaled to about $750,000

“It’s to the point where it’s unsafe and not worth keeping,” said DiPaolo.

He said a sign should be going up soon to show that the property is for sale or lease, and that it can be subdivided or built to suit.

“I think it’s going to make it much more attractive,” added DiPaolo. “It’s the last large piece of property on Armory Drive. They call that ‘The Golden Mile’ for a reason. It’s a beautiful piece of property.”

Two companies will be involved in the demolition, Mascon Restoration and Crowder and White Contracting. The first will take care of asbestos issues, if any, and the second will do the actual deconstruction.

There’s no time set yet for the razing to begin, but DiPaolo expects that the work should last no more than seven to 10 days.

Demolishing a commercial property can’t be done with just one phone call to a contractor. There’s permits and inspections needed.

“The City [of Franklin] has been stellar in helping us and getting it done as soon as possible,” he said. “When you start dealing with city departments, there are obvious hoops that have to be jumped through — utilities, power company, the amount of infrastructure, meeting with department heads and making sure everybody’s on the same page.

“Kudos to the building department, public works, electricity. They made themselves available to expedite this. In a larger municipality, it would take a month or two. Franklin has relatively quicker access. They’re genuine people.”

Mark Bly, director of the Electric Department, said demolitions begin with getting permits from the Inspections Department, which also notifies his organization.

“Once everybody’s signed off on the applications, they’re good to go,” said Bly.

Russ Pace, director of the Public Works Department, spoke about the process.

“He [DiPaolo] or the demolition guy contacted us to get information on disconnecting water, sewer and storm drains,” said Pace. “It’s different than residential demolitions, which the city does. When it comes to commercial, a contractor has to do it. That’s in the city ordinance.”

He added that the utilities superintendent had to explain how the disconnections were to be done in a way to make the demolition as easy as possible.

“The only other thing is how the trucks will run out of the site getting rid of concrete,” said Pace. “They’ll go back out of South College Drive to South Street and then to the bypass.”

Sharing DiPaolo’s hope that the demolition will promote new development are Amanda Jarratt and Randy Martin.

“We’re very excited. It’s a wonderful move on the owner’s part,” said Jarratt, president and chief executive officer of the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. “We think it’s a prime area on Armory Drive and has great potential for future commercial development.

“We’re looking forward to working with the owner. We think it’s great he’s taking the next step to developing the property.”

Martin shares that enthusiasm.

“This is a prime attractive property and excellent location,” he said.

“It’s becoming a very nice corridor for commercial development. This’ll obviously add to that and give us the opportunity and do some really neat stuff. I hope it’ll be a mix of economical development.

“It’ll be good to see the site active,” said Martin. “I applaud the owner for taking the initiative.”