Developer presents plans for Tremont Nail Factory property

Feb 11, 2021

Bentley Companies, a Rhode Island-based operation and the potential master developer for the Tremont Nail Factory property, presented its vision for the Tremont property to the Wareham Redevelopment Authority on Feb. 11.

Bentley Companies said it sees the site as one with the potential for office space, retail establishments and a brewery or restaurant of some sort. The developer’s vision also includes a waterfront community park — complete with a pier, boardwalk and kayak rentals.

The proposal is one step toward the town’s goal of redeveloping the Tremont Nail property, which was originally built in the 19th century. Steel cut nails were manufactured on site in the “steel building” as recently as 2006. 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 December, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved issuing a request for proposals for a master developer for the property. Bentley, which has a regional office in Foxboro and has worked on development projects throughout New England, was the only developer to submit a response.

A decision to move forward with Bentley Companies as a master developer would not hinder the town’s plans to negotiate a host community agreement and lease to use the steel building on the Tremont Nail Factory property to manufacture and package a variety of cannabis products.

Jason Pannone, a Bentley Companies representative, explained that his team saw an opportunity to “bring commerce back” to the Tremont Nail site. 

“What we thought we’d do is try and bring a little bit of a design to keep the history of each and every building,” Pannone said. “And bring it into the new age as well.”

He noted that Bentley only planned to construct one new building, which would be retail space with office space on the second floor.

The rest of its plans were for existing buildings and structures, though all would likely need significant utility upgrades.

Bentley identified the factory’s “Freight Building” — which has been used for events such as the “Meet Me At the Tremont” gala — as a potential location for a 3,000 or 4,000 square foot restaurant or brewery with outdoor seating. 

This was the first time Bentley presented its proposal to town officials, and there is no guarantee the town will pursue a master developer agreement with Bentley Companies.

Pannone also emphasized that Bentley hoped to take advantage of the location’s waterfront access to create a park, pier and boardwalk that would “pull a little community feel” to the area. Redevelopment Authority member Richard Swenson said he found the idea of a waterfront park very appealing. 

Bentley Companies’ designer Frank Zaino said the company’s vision for the property was to expand on what was already there.

“It’s kind of like a hidden gem back there,” Zaino said. “We’re trying to open it up. [...] where it’s more of a communal aspect and a destination for a Saturday night out.”

Swenson said he thought the Pier Marketplace development in Narragansett, Rhode Island — which Bentley’s building company helped construct as part of the building team — was most comparable to the proposed Tremont Nail project. Except, Swenson noted, that the developer’s plans for Tremont do not currently include a residential component.

He asked if the development could stand alone without a residential element tying people to the location.

Pannone said there was definitely interest in adding a residential component, but noted that, among other hurdles, there would be trouble finding parking space. He was also quick to point out that the property already had a “significant amount of residents” in the surrounding area. 

Zaino said he was confident the development could stand alone with or without a residential aspect.

Town Administrator and board member Derek Sullivan said the proposal’s concept was appealing, but he said there would be some challenges such as working around the federal flood zone and protected wetlands that surround the site.

While the board seemed pleased with the proposal overall, the next steps were unclear. Members said they would discuss the proposal in the weeks to come and eventually schedule another conversation with representatives from Bentley Companies.

The details of a potential financial deal between the town and the developer also remain unclear.

The Tremont Nail property is owned by the town and controlled by the Board of Selectmen, but the Redevelopment Authority has operational control of the property. 

The Redevelopment Authority is tasked with evaluating the proposal, before making a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen — which has the power to enter into an agreement with a developer.

This story has been updated to more accurately reflect Bentley Companies’ role in a development in Narragansett, RI. The Narragansett Pier Marketplace project was developed by Gilbane Properties, and Bentley Companies’ building company, Bentley Builders LLC, was contracted as a part of the building team that worked onsite for the developer.