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Historic paper mill in Lee to be redeveloped into affordable housing

LEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A historic Berkshire County paper mill will soon become mixed-use housing.

For more than two centuries, the building has stood on the edge of the Housatonic Tiver and has been empty for decades. Now, the Eagle Mill will soon be transformed into affordable apartments and other community space.

“We’ve been in the middle of a housing crisis for more than a generation in Massachusetts. We simply need a lot more housing,” said Mike Kennealy, Secretary of housing & Economic Development.

The Eagle Mill on West Center Street in Lee is one of the region’s most historic paper mills dating back centuries. After nearly a decade of planning, the estimated $60 million Eagle Mill revitalization project will soon get underway adding dozens of residential rental units, retail shops, and condos.

“Today we launch a new beginning that will not only bring new life to a vacant site in the heart of Lee, but will also provide desperately needed housing,” said Eileen Peltier, CEO of Berkshire Housing.

Construction is not set to begin for a few more weeks but the first phase will create 56 mixed-income units. In all, the mixed-use project will have 122 apartments, and 66 of them will be located in newly constructed buildings in the eastern portion of the downtown property. There will also be six condominiums built on-site along the Housatonic River.

Peltier told 22News, “We have a serious supply issue. Combined with too many households making too little to afford a home.”

About a third of Berkshire County households make less than $35,000 a year. Congressman Richard Neal has been a longtime supporter of this project and secured $9 million in historic tax credits to help transform the property.

“There will be an effort made to bring people in based on income and at the same time you want to mix and I think that’s what the developer here is promising,” said Congressman Neal.

This project has been delayed for years due to revisions and the global pandemic.