Housing coming to Tremont Nail property?

Jun 10, 2021

Bentley Companies, the master developer for the town-owned Tremont Nail Factory property, is considering adding about 50 to 60 one or two-bedroom apartments to its plans for redeveloping the historic site. 

During a June 10 meeting of the Wareham Redevelopment Authority, Bentley Companies representative Jason Pannone explained that the developer was considering adding a residential component to its Tremont Nail plans. 

“We were looking to do some type of mixed-use on the old Tremont building itself as a housing component,” he explained. “Even keeping the same roofline, but potentially adding a few floors to it.”

Bentley Companies presented its vision for the Tremont site to the Redevelopment Authority and to the Board of Selectmen earlier this year. At the time, the plans didn’t include housing, but officials discussed whether adding a residential component would be worthwhile.

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 vision also includes a waterfront community park — complete with a pier, boardwalk and kayak rentals.

Pannone said that “there would be no changes” to any of Bentley Companies’ initial plans, even housing is pursued. 

The Board of Selectmen named Bentley Companies the master developer for the site in late April, and the town is currently negotiating a land disposition agreement with the developer. Pannone said Bentley Companies wanted to ensure its potential change of plans wouldn’t cause any problems with the town.

“We just want to make sure we’re complying with what you guys expect,” he said.  

The selection of a master developer is another 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.

Redevelopment Authority member Richard Swenson expressed his support for adding housing. 

“I believe that housing is a critical element of making any project like this successful,” Swenson said, noting that while a retail or commercial presence was good, housing would be even better. “If you have a residential component as well, it has so much more opportunity to be a thriving area.”

Pannone emphasized that other town committees had expressed “that there is a demand for housing.” He also said that having a “captive audience already there residentially” would only serve to strengthen the other on-site businesses and bring in outside traffic.

Although Bentley Companies is still in the early planning stages for the housing component, Pannone said the current idea would be to add three stories to the main old Tremont Nail factory building. Unit layouts will depend on the design team’s work, Pannone said. 

“We were thinking between 800 and 1,100 square foot units, depending on bedroom count,” he said.

It is still uncertain whether the units will be priced at market rate or priced to meet some level of affordability, such as workforce housing. 

Pannone said Bentley Companies is hoping to have more concrete plans before the land disposition agreement is negotiated and finalized in the coming weeks.