Newest Tourister Plan Starts March for Approval Across River in Warren

'We were hearing,' said Warren Town Planner Caroline Wells. "Now we're reviewing."

Former Tourister mill in Warren. Credit: W.Rupp
Former Tourister mill in Warren. Credit: W.Rupp

The approval process for the latest plan to develop the former Tourister luggage mill complex on Warren’s waterfront across the river from the Mathewson Road neighborhood in Barrington has begun. 

“We were hearing,” said Warren Town Planner Caroline Wells. “Now we’re reviewing.” 

The formal application for the complex went before Warren’s Technical Review Committee late Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 15. Wells received the application from Tourister Mill LLC, a partnership of Brady Sullivan of Manchester, N.H., and Starr Development Partners LLC of Belmont, Mass., about two weeks ago. 

A big step will come on Monday, Jan. 27 when the project will go before a “public information meeting” of the Warren Planning Board, Wells said.

“It will give just about anyone a chance to comment on the plan,” Wells said. 

Written comments also are expected to come from several Barrington officials by way of Barrington Town Planner Phil Hervey, including Alan Corvi, the public works director and Gerald Bessette, the fire chief.

Barrington’s fire chief also is expected to be involved in crafting a multi-community firefighting plan for the complex.

The only significant change to the expected plan for the project that was revealed last October is the inclusion of “penthouse-type apartments” on a fourth floor that will be added to the building. Those units will be among the more than 300 one- and two-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors. They will look over the river and downtown Warren. 

The first floor will be made up of commercial tenants – primarily retail shops, restaurants and light manufacturing. Housing is not allowed on the first floor because the building sits in a flood zone. 

The formal application also shows the addition of a “boardwalk” along the Warren River and “parking inside the buildings,” Wells said. It also shows several acres of green space and a new seawall. The current seawall needs repairs even without a boardwalk, she said.

Wells said she anticipates that the exterior walls will be repointed and given a cosmetic makeover as well.

The developers already have master plan approval, which was given by the planning board to a previous proposal by Meredith Associates, which sold the building to Tourister Mill LLC last spring. 

Sullivan and Starr are looking now for an “amended master plan approval,” said Wells. She expects that to come no later than the planning board’s February meeting. 

Getting preliminary approval could take several months longer, she said. That will involve a significant level of engineering and design review.

The developers anticipate completing the entire project in two phases by sometime late next year – an ambitious timetable. The developers also plan to use historic tax credits along with private funding to create the combination residential and commercial structure, said Wells. And they plan to manage the property after it is completed.  

The project includes the razing of two buildings – one to the east of the main building that has seen serious decay over the years, Wells said. Other than the fourth floor penthouses, there will be no new buildings constructed.

There also will be no affordable housing, she said. All of the apartments will be rented at market rates.

Bernie McMahon January 16, 2014 at 09:35 AM
I can remember back in the 1950s when the mill had a large neon sign (red) on its roof which said "Berkshire Hathaway". Anyway, I hope the renovation plans by the new owners work out. This would surely be a good boost to Warren's economy.
Elizabeth Holmes January 16, 2014 at 10:41 AM
Sounds like a great plan, BUT are they doing anything to address traffic. The traffic in that section of Warren is heavy on a most days and at most times and the street right outside the mill complex is prone to flooding. To accomodate an additional 600 or so cars for the those living in this complex something needs to be done to make that section of 114 work better for heavy traffic -- or it will more of a nightmare to drive from Barrington to Warren and to turn into and out of roads leading to 114 than it already is.
Cyndee Fuller January 20, 2014 at 08:57 AM
I agree with Elizabeth Holmes; traffic is going to be a major concern. Route 114 cannot handle an additional 600 or even 300 cars. I think Warren needs to improve the traffic flow into their downtown area from the east, down Market or Child streets, making that route a viable alternative to Rt 114.


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