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Mark Dickinson Builds Reputation on Transforming Brownfields

QUINCY, MASS. (Issued August 2010) — Over the past 10 years, developer Mark Dickinson has successfully tackled four complex brownfields redevelopment projects that some others thought were too complicated or too costly.

His company, Dickinson Development of Quincy, has successfully overcome environmental, engineering, permitting and construction issues, and succeeded on many levels. His projects have won awards and accolades.

by Dickinson Development Corp., Quincy Mass.

  • Abandoned Municipal Landfill (33.5 acres) — Transformed long-closed landfill into attractive new welcoming entry to town: $90 million Crossing at Walkers Brook in Reading, Mass. Retail center anchored by Home Depot and Jordan’s Furniture. $750,000 annually in new real estate taxes to the town; Dickinson capped the landfill at its expense.
  • Underused industrial / office building (5 acres) — Replaced a tired eyesore factory/warehousing/office complex with a modern 69,000 square foot Stop & Shop Supermarket in Reading, Mass. The market annually brings over $100,000 to the town in real estate taxes.
  • Abandoned Mill (14 acres) — Riverside Landing, New Bedford, Mass. — Tore down long-abandoned mill complex; being replaced with 97,000 SF Market Basket supermarket to open Fall 2010. Phase II: 50,000 SF office and retail space. $35 million project; property will bring $250,000+ annually in tax revenues to the city. Creating a new gateway to the city.
  • DPW Yard (25 acres) — Dover Landing, Dover, New Hampshire — Eyesore town facility to be transformed into a $75 million mixed-use development on the Cochecho River; 180 residential units and 66,800 square feet of commercial space; projected annual real estate taxes over $1,000,000. Creating new access to river and expanded downtown district. Now in permitting phase.

When completed, investment in the four projects — in Reading and New Bedford, Mass., and Dover, NH) will have exceeded $200 million. Ultimately, the projects will have created many hundreds of construction and full-time jobs, bringing millions in new tax revenues to their towns, and transforming over 77 acres to productive uses. (See the sidebar for an overview of Dickinson’s redevelopment projects).

“I didn’t start out seeking this niche,” Dickinson says, “but years ago I saw that brownfield redevelopment is a win-win. It results in a cleaner environment and opens up underutilized locations for new uses.” As a native New Englander, Dickinson appreciates how the region was home to the country’s earliest manufacturing enterprises that contributed to America’s greatness, and how these tired sites need new economically feasible uses. He says, “I appreciate each site’s history, and that they were developed long before today’s environmental safeguards.”

Dickinson has some legendary New England vision and entrepreneurial spirit in his genes. His grandfather, Arnold Dickinson, provided financing for aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky and was the first president of the Sikorsky Co. in the 1920s. “I’m sure there were naysayers then, too, who warned my grandfather not to invest in something that ‘couldn’t fly,’ ” Dickinson smiles.

In some cases, Dickinson has made concessions to local governments in the form of improvements and mitigation as a means of giving back to the communities. In Dover, NH, he’ll build a riverfront park and river walk, and boat docks, and remediate the former DPW lot. In New Bedford, he’ll open public access to the riverfront, help create a park and boat docks for neighborhood residents.

“What attracted me to these projects are new challenges and the unexpected,” says Dickinson. “Transforming non-productive, ugly liabilities into attractive and productive assets brings me and my team professional and personal satisfaction. That’s why I’m looking for new opportunities. My grandfather would be proud to see these projects fly.”

Founded in 1980, Dickinson Development is a full-service commercial real estate development and project management consulting firm based in Quincy, Mass. For more on Dickinson Development, call 617-770-1955 or email Mark Dickinson at mark@dickinsondev.com.

-- By Stanley Hurwitz (stanhurw@comcast.net)

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