Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

January 15, 2015

New life on tap for Framingham's old Dennison complex?

Courtesy of Jacks's Abby Brewery The owners of Jack's Abby Brewery plant to expand operations in a larger space in a former Dennison Manufacturing building on Clinton Street in Framingham. The brewery is now located nearby on Morton Street.

Town officials are intrigued by a proposal to expand Framingham’s only brewery, Jack’s Abby Brewing, inside a building formerly occupied Dennison Manufacturing Co., the paper products manufacturer that was once the town’s economic engine.

Jack Hendler, who owns and operates the Morton Street brewery with his brothers, said Jack’s Abby draws customers from near and far, and has outgrown its current space of about 17,000 square feet. With 25,000 visitors last year, the Hendlers are hoping to expand production, tastings and tours, and add a restaurant and taproom in a 67,000-square-foot space in one of two buildings at 100 Clinton St., part of Dennison’s former complex that was active from 1897 until it merged with Avery Corp. in 1990 to become Avery Dennison.

Brewer wants to bring manufacturing back to downtown

“We’re really in a unique position, where we’re not only looking to bring … the retail aspect but also true manufacturing to that site,” Hendler said Monday.

The Jack’s Abby proposal is under review by the Planning Board. Having already received a Farmers Series Pourers Permit from the town, which allows them to function as a bar and a brewery, the Hendlers are seeking a special permit to operate a restaurant in the building as well as permission to offer outdoor seating. The board received the project warmly Jan. 8 before it continued the review until Jan. 22.

“There’s no process that will ever be 100-percent smooth, but we’re happy about how the community has embraced (the proposal),” Hendler said.

A restaurant and brewery in a former Dennison building is exactly the kind of redevelopment town administrators are vying for. In fact, they’ve been involved with connecting property owners to tenants, as was the case with Jack’s Abby, according to Arthur Robert, Framingham’s community and economic development director.

Robert said much of the former Dennison complex, today known as the Dennison Triangle, has been redeveloped as residential and office space. A restaurant and brewery offers a chance to “help redefine that area of downtown” in a building that has been inactive for many years.

Robert noted that the owner, Calare Properties of Hudson, has repositioned the Clinton Street buildings to attract new tenants. Hendler, who has already leased 67,000 square feet, said Calare has done considerable work on the interior and exterior of the building; the space Jack’s Abby has leased just needs to be customized for a brewery.

“It’s more about adapting it to our specific use,” Hendler said.

Town investment brings other restaurateurs

But property owners aren’t the only ones doing their share of attracting new businesses to downtown, which has struggled to find footing as shoppers and diners have flocked to Route 9-area businesses in recent years. Robert said federal Community Development Block Grant money, as well as funds generated by the Framingham Economic Development and Industrial Corp., have helped restaurant owners pay for signage and façade improvements. Recent examples include Pho Dakao, a Vietnamese restaurant on Concord Street, and the Deluxe Depot Diner on Route 135, both of which opened within the last year.

Deluxe Depot is particularly noteworthy, since it’s located in the historic downtown train station built in the late 1800s. The diner’s owner, a Watertown company, has other diners in Watertown and Newton.

Robert hopes it’s a harbinger of growing enthusiasm for investment in downtown Framingham.

“We’re trying to attract significant new investment, which hasn’t happened in many years,” Robert said.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF