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THE HERALD NEWS - Stevens Mill complex heads to auction block, future of Fall River businesses unknown

November 19, 2015

Stevens Mill complex heads to auction block, future of  Fall River businesses unknown

The Stevens Mill complex will be auctioned off on Dec. 9.

FALL RIVER - There was a time when the Stevens name was known worldwide.

That was early in the last century, when the Stevens Mill on Stevens Street made 40,000 bedspreads a week. Stevens Spreads were exported to the four corners of the world.

Pigeons roost on the mill building now. Large windows look through to empty rooms. Piles of leaves collect in the corners of the yard that once bustled with trucks.

The Stevens Complex, a mill compound sandwiched between Stevens Street and Route 24, is for sale. A public auction will be held on Dec. 9 at the property. The owner, Stecom Associates LLC, set the minimum price at $500,000.

"The property has been in the family since World War II," said Robert Capuano, a principal in Stecom. "But I really don't want to comment on this." 

The mill is in better shape than many in the city. Built of red brick, it has been maintained and updated with new window and safety systems.

"The Capuanos were diligent, detail oriented owners," said Justin Manning, who will handle the sale for JJ Manning Auctioneers. "They are retiring and getting out of the business. They have owned it forever.

"They said they liked it and it made money, but they didn't want to be landlords any more."

The property is assessed by the city at $2.4 million. Manning said a 2009 assessment set the value at $2.1 million.

"The property has been listed with Remax/Right Choice," Manning said. "They have had some decent offers. But offers are only worth the paper they are written on."

The Stevens Mill was built in 1892 on the bank of the Quequechan River. It expanded all the way to Stevens Streetto the west and south past what is now Detroit Street. Part of the industrial complex was sold and a community of 70 single family homes have been built on the land in the past 10 years.

What will happen to the existing mill is anyone's guess.

"A lot of what will happen to the property will depend on the environmental conditions of the land," said Ken Fiola, executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development.

"The property itself has value to developers because of its location and its size."

His office has been getting inquiries about the land since JJ Manning Auctioneers sent out fliers, announcing the Dec. 9 sale, Fiola said.

Buyers have been calling and signing up online for access to the file set up by the auctioneers, listing the condition of the building, the results of environmental testing and the most recent assessments, Manning said.

"We want to give them all the information so they can do their due diligence," he said. "When we do that, we can get a better price."

Included in that package are the leases for a half-dozen companies operating in the complex. Among them is Town Taxi.

Faith Latessa owns Town Taxi with Buddy Humes. They just signed a second 5-year lease for the office and garage they occupy. The company has 22 cars on the road with 50 drivers working 24 hours a day, Latessa said.

"We will have to see what the new owners plan," Latessa said. "This has been a good location for us. We would like to stay."

JJ Manning Auctioneers will offer a tour of the property on Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for potential buyers. The auction will be on Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. on site. The winning bidder must be able to post 10 percent of the purchase price in cash or certified bank check within two days and the balance within 45 days.

With the auction, the Stevens name is spreading worldwide again, Manning said.

"The volatility of the stock market and the potential rise in interest rates have forced people to invest quickly and heavily in real estate," Manning said. "We are seeing a lot of foreign buyers, from Chinaand Russiaespecially.

"People will run the numbers and see that they can make money with this. Income producing properties are hot right now.

"This will sell."