Christopher Yule laid out his vision for selectmen, Feb. 14, for the recreational facility he’s building at 22 Town Farm Road.
Yule is seeking an all-alcohol license for a restaurant he’d like to include in his project. He has filed a citizen’s petition for the March 25 annual Town Meeting that would authorize selectmen to request one from the state.
With Selectman Don Siriani abstaining, the board voted 4 to 0 to recommend the petition for the Yule Development Company of Newton.
Yule’s enthusiasm for the sports facility project was apparent.
“…the ideas that had gone into it really washed over the sides like waves on a boat,” Yule said.
Yule, the Abbot Mill restorer, who has revitalized Forge Village over the past seven years, is planning to build a 3,000 square-foot restaurant and snack bar inside one of the five buildings he purchased in December from RR Donnelly & Sons, Inc. of Chicago. Ebook publisher, Courier Corp., owned by RR Donnelly, vacated two of five buildings in October 2015, leaving 200 unemployed.
Late last year Yule hired Director of Operations Sandra Habe, and together they’ve been drawing up the plans for his next major project – converting 160,000 square feet into indoor practice facilities and game-playing areas. Habe was an 18-year employee of the town’s Recreation Department.
Characterized by Yule as the “brains behind the operation,” Habe said Westford Academy Athletic Director Dan Twomey will use the facilities for his high school athletes. The project will include an indoor track, fitness facility, and concession stand.
“We have turf fields,” Habe said. “We have multipurpose space, which will be volleyball courts, badminton.”
Yule completed the vision.
“…it has all of the indoor training and sports facilities that you would think,” He said. “It has soccer facilities, and the emphasis there is on training and education. So there’ll be lots of classes. There’ll be lots of opportunities to learn and get together as an activity center.”
Seven years ago Yule began the rehabilitation and conversion of the Abbot Mill on Pleasant Street, constructing 131 apartments with underground parking. In December he opened the Village Breakfast R
estaurant around the corner from the mill in partnership with resident Richard Crocker.
But his latest project was never part of the plan, he said.
“It wasn’t originally my plan to buy the remaining Courier buildings…,” he said. “…I started to get very nervous because the people from RR Donnelly’s were talking to some purchasers who I thought would be…detrimental to the property and to that part of the neighborhood. At which point I said, all right, I need to take an active hand in this… We’ll figure something out. It was strictly a defensive move to protect Abbot Mill and all the work we’d done down there…”