Plans shared for each building at Tremont Nail Factory

Oct 17, 2021

The town’s efforts to preserve and redevelop the Tremont Nail Factory reached a wider audience on Thursday, Oct. 14, when a group of officials from town and statewide agencies walked the historic site. 

For months, the town has been working to move forward with a master developer that will redevelop 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.

On Oct. 14, Director of Planning and Community Development Ken Buckland led a group of about 20 people around the historic site, explaining the master developer’s vision for the property. The group contained members of the Select Board, Redevelopment Authority, Wareham Historical Commission, Community Preservation Committee, Conservation Commission and Preservation Massachusetts

The walkthrough was organized for Stuart Saginor, the executive director of the Community Preservation Coalition — an organization that helps towns “understand, adopt and implement” the Community Preservation Act. Saginor’s visit was a chance for the town to “showcase success,” according to Joan Kinniburgh, chair of the Community Preservation Committee. 

In April, Bentley Companies (based in Rhode Island) was named master developer for the site, and Buckland explained the developer’s evolving plans for the Tremont Nail Factory during the walkthrough.

The “white building,” which currently has a water and mold problem that prevents the use of the building, would become a museum, Buckland said. The building at 8 Elm St. used to be the Tremont Nail Company’s office. 

Just behind the white building sits the old steel building. Buckland said it would be kept as a marijuana manufacturing business, under the master developer’s plans. The town has agreements in place with cannabis company Aspen Blue that would allow for marijuana to be processed at the site. This will likely begin in early 2022. 

Bentley Companies is still exploring plans for the main factory building, which still contains a number of old steel cut nail manufacturing machines. Buckland said the developer was considering adding housing units. Initially, Bentley Companies intended the main factory building to be used for retail purposes.

Behind the main factory building are the smaller packaging and pickling buildings. The pickling building, one of the smallest on the site, “is not salvageable,” Buckland said. 

He said the developer planned to “take pieces of it, and reconstruct it” before reimagining it for other uses. 

The packaging building, just behind the pickling building, would be rented out, likely for retail purposes.

The old freight building — which has more recently been the site of the Meet Me at the Tremont events — would be repurposed as some sort of restaurant/cafe or event space, Buckland said. 

A rundown shack near the rear of the property and close to the site’s Wankinco and Wareham River access would be redeveloped into a kayak rental house. In that same vicinity, Bentley Companies has proposed a pier/boardwalk. 

During the tour, Saginor suggested the town prioritize finding a way to ensure that the historic nature of the site is protected as the developer plans and begins work. He also suggested ways the town could use Community Preservation Act funds — for example: to preserve the historic signage on the property.