CAMBRIDGE — The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, along with Structural Preservation System and Cross Street Partners, recently began the restoration of the old Phillips Packing Company factory smokestacks in Cambridge along Dorchester Avenue.
Structural Preservation System crews began repairing and stabilizing the two historic smokestacks on June 24. By the end of the restoration, the two smokestacks will return to 91 feet tall. The project is scheduled to be completed in 80 days.
“We are excited to be here in partnership with Cross Street Partners and working with Structural Preservation System to celebrate the start of the restoration for the two 90-foot smokestacks associated with the Phillips Packing Company factory,” ESLC Conservation Vice President Katie Parks said during a Monday, July 8, press conference at the factory. “The smokestacks are an iconic focal point on the Cambridge horizon. This project ensures that this historic factory is preserved.”
The smokestack restoration is just phase one of a larger project planned by the ESLC. Phase two will repurpose the old factory into a new food production facility for technology and creative entrepreneurs called The Packing House.
In its heyday, Phillips Packing Company was a sprawling, 60-acre campus. Now only Factory F remains, and the ESLC, along with partners such as Cross Street Partners, Preservation Maryland, the City of Cambridge, and Dorchester County, have developed the new model for the old factory and the future site of Cannery Park, which will be adjacent to the building.
Structural Preservation System Division Manager Wade Chubet, and Cross Street Partners Development Partner Margaret Norfleet-Neff joined Parks at the site Monday to give an overview of the project.
“It has been an incredible partnership,” Norfleet-Neff said.
About seven years ago, ESLC began having conversations with city and county officials about creating Cannery Park. The plan called for the future park to be a new central park for Cambridge. The nine-acre park would be adjacent to the factory.
The remaining phases will turn the two-story, 60,000-square-foot factory into an active mix-use LEED Gold development to support Eastern Shore industries such as farming and fisheries with a food business incubator, retail and eateries. The building is planned to have a two-story, light-filled open atrium for public programs and private events.
“Part of the restoration, repurposing of the Phillips Packing Company factory into The Packing House is looking at the next generation of strategic opportunity for industries in agriculture, aquaculture and environmental technologies,” Parks said. “We are really thinking about the economic backbone industries of the Eastern Shore.
“We have many buildings that used to provide jobs and economic stability in towns across the Eastern Shore that are now vacant or blighted,” she said. “Part of the ESLC’s mission is building strong, vibrant towns. Projects like The Packing House are the way we can have the most impact in restoring vibrance.”
Preservation Maryland announced in 2018 the Phillips Packing House revitalization project as a Six-to-Fix project to support the project’s effort by identifying funding for critical repair of the iconic smokestacks.
The Packing House project also was awarded a $3 million tax credit for revitalization of a structure located within an underserved community.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot each have visited the old Phillips Packing Company factory the last two years.
Franchot awarded the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy with the 2017 Bright Lights Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship during a ceremony inside the old factory in July 2017.