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CANTON, MA-An old mill site that once produced gunpowder for the Colonial Army during the Revolutionary War and was later turned into the nation’s first copper rolling mill by Paul Revere is being eyed as the site of a mixed-use development that will put 550 luxury condo and apartment units adjacent to the Downtown area here.

Developer Terry Conroy tells GlobeSt.com that he’s still awaiting town approval to begin the $175-million project that will turn the existing Plymouth Rubber Factory into 500,000 sf of residential and 80,000 sf of retail space within the next four years. Conroy says the project also includes about $6 million in clean-up costs to prepare the site which has been a manufacturing area for more than 100 years.

“You can’t have a factory in the middle of Downtown Canton,” says Conroy, noting that his proposal calls for the demolition of the operating rubber plant, which employs about 275 workers, and the construction of a “village-type” complex featuring boutiques and restaurants. A historic barn and an old mill used by the Revere family for 100 years, both located on the site, are expected to be saved from the wrecking ball. Conway says he hopes the mill could be turned into a museum containing artifacts from Paul Revere highlighting his connection with this suburb southwest of Boston.

In December, Conroy reached an agreement with Plymouth Rubber to purchase the 40-acre site for an undisclosed price, but the agreement is contingent on securing a zoning change for the project. A special Town Meeting will decide whether to rezone the property from industrial to mixed use this fall.

Conroy says the project, to be comprised of three-story residential units with a first floor of retail along with several hundred sf of single-story buildings, will increase the town’s tax base dramatically. Presently, the property generates about $180,000 for the town. Under his proposal, that tax revenue will increase to $2 million. A portion of the residential units will be reserved for condominiums that will sell in the $400,000 price range, with the remaining units used as apartments.

Town officials have asked Conroy to include affordable housing, traffic improvements and other public amenities as part of the plan. Conroy previously developed the Canton Commerce Center on Route 138 and recently built the new Dunkin’ Brands corporate headquarters on Royal Street. He has also developed several residential properties in the town.

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