Northborough selects consultant to market White Cliffs property

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Northborough selects consultant to market White Cliffs property
Northborough’s White Cliffs mansion has been the subject of recent discussions by the town White Cliffs Committee. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – A consulting firm has been selected to help Northborough market its White Cliffs property as the town hopes to find a private sector partner to rehabilitate the site.

The White Cliffs Committee interviewed three consultants during its June 23 meeting, including the Peregrine Group, VHB and Kirk and Company.

The committee ultimately selected Kirk and Company, authorizing Town Administrator John Coderre to enter into a contract.

“We’re looking to put a [request for proposals] out on the street and to essentially find someone who can work with us to bring the White Cliffs back into form,” Coderre said.

“You’ve got a fantastic building out there,” Kirk and Company Chief Operating Officer Brett Pelletier said later in the meeting. “I hope, no matter what happens with this and the next steps, that it’s preserved and made even more beautiful.”

Kirk and Company had previously helped the town conduct a market analysis before it purchased White Cliffs in hopes that the then private owner would be able to use the analysis to attract a buyer interested in preserving the mansion’s historic aspects.

Town purchases White Cliffs

White Cliffs was built in 1886 as a summer home for Smith & Wesson co-founder Daniel Wesson and his wife, Cynthia. While the mansion had several owners over the years, it was purchased by the LaCava family in 1985.

The family then announced that it wanted to sell the property in 2014. Unsuccessful in their search for a buyer, the family applied for a demolition permit.

The town ultimately purchased White Cliffs in 2016, saving it from demolition.

An assessment and reuse study of the site was presented to the committee in 2020.

Coderre noted that the committee determined that a number of options were ruled out because they weren’t economically viable.

The committee, he said, asked the consultants to look at an option called “preservation lite.” Coderre described that as examining what it would look like to get White Cliffs operational and up to code compliance.

Town seeks CPC funds to help pay consultant

Talking through that process, Coderre said the committee opted to seek consulting services.

“This RFP is unlike anything else that we’ve done,” Coderre said. “It’s not a senior center or fire station or things that we typically do. This is a very unique RFP.”

Coderre said the budget for this phase is $32,000.

The White Cliffs Committee, as of a May 26 meeting, had about $30,000 remaining in its budget that was uncommitted.

Back in May, the White Cliffs Committee voted to request remaining administrative funds from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) to allow it to engage with a consultant.

The CPC had about $28,000 remaining in its budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which expired at the end of June. Coderre said he talked with the CPC Chair John Campbell, who said he didn’t see any need for those funds on the horizon, indicating that the CPC could transfer the funds to support White Cliffs efforts.

“With that funding and the remaining budget, we have enough to reasonably go out and engage the consultants and get the process moving, which is really what we need to do at this point,” Coderre said.

The committee was scheduled to meet with Pelletier again yesterday.

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