Riverfront Drive 071517

A family walks along the Judith H. Robbins Riverfront Park.

ATTLEBORO — The Attleboro Redevelopment Authority has been awarded a $500,000 environmental loan to clean a three-acre parcel on the edge of downtown that’s part of the property the ARA and city hope to transform into a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood.

It’s the last piece of a years-long effort to prepare a seven-acre site for sale to someone who will build apartments, stores and offices on the strip of land between the MBTA commuter rail station on the east, Robbins Riverfront Park on the west, and Olive and Wall streets on the south and north, respectively.

The loan comes from the quasi-public Mass Development Corp. and its Brownfield Redevelopment Fund. It will be repaid with proceeds from the eventual sale of the property, Rick Correia, ARA chairman, said.

Correia said the loan is an important achievement.

“It’s a big win for the ARA and a big win for the city as well,” he said.

Correia said the cleanup will ultimately mean tax revenue for city coffers and renewal for a grimy, underutilized section of the city.

“It will be a huge benefit for the city to get it back on the tax rolls and huge benefit for the city to get a mixed use development down there,” he said.

The parcel is part of the city’s new transit-oriented development, or TOD, zone that allows for a variety of uses in a single zoning district.

Its development is part of a 20-year effort encompassing three mayoral administrations to revitalize the center of the city. Most recently, the property was occupied by the city’s public works yard.

Correia said the property should be ready for sale by February 2021.

Mayor Paul Heroux said the loan is a major accomplishment.

“This is a great thing for Attleboro. This is going to help us take a big step forward with the TOD,” Heroux said in a congratulatory email to Correia.

Gov. Charlie Baker also weighed in.

“We believe strongly in the work you are doing and the public purpose benefits that will be realized with the completion of this project,” he said in a prepared statement sent to city officials.

The parcel to be cleaned with the $500,000 loan is a three-acre site once owned by Reynolds & Markman Co. It was polluted when a fire destroyed a warehouse decades ago.

The cleanup of a city dump next to the Reynolds & Markman property is already underway and is being paid for with $480,000 provided from the city.

The city got that cash when the ARA paid back an $800,000 loan it got from the city years ago.

Correia said the cleanup of the dump site has yielded some interesting material, including a 54-year-old invoice from the Metals & Controls company that was somehow preserved in a pack of other papers dumped decades ago.

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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