Holyoke computing center site demolition gets going with contractor J.R. Vinagro chewing away!

HOLYOKE – Demolition began Monday on one of the two buildings that will be coming down at the Bigelow Street site of the future high performance computing center.

Contractor J.R. Vinagro, of Johnston, R.I., removed the north wall and loading dock of a metal building on the site between Cabot and Appleton streets, said Timothy J. Shannon, gas superintendent of the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department.

The $168 million academic research center is being built here to take advantage of the hydroelectric power at the dams and canals owned by the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department.

The Planning Board has approved the site plan for the center’s 90,000-square-foot building of brick, precast concrete and glass.

The center will overlook the first-level canal on a site that formerly housed Mastex Industries.

Mastex, which closed in 2009, made fabric used for airbags, as well as for Armed Forces and industrial uses.

Razing the metal building is scheduled to take only a few days as officials envision the longer job being demolition of the brick building with undulating roof that was the main Mastex building. That will begin in July and take at least a month because the work will involve disposal of asbestos, Shannon said.

A third building on the site, formerly the Diamond Water Systems building at Bigelow and Cabot streets, will be left standing, officials have said.

Partners planning the center are the University of Massachusetts, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Northeastern University, EMC Corp., of Hopkinton, an information storage, back-up and recovery firm, and Cisco Systems Inc., a California-based Internet network equipment maker.

The Holyoke Gas and Electric Department and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, the formal name of the entity that will own and operate the center, signed a purchase and sale agreement for the site March 18.

The cost for demolition, cleaning contaminants such as oil and asbestos that have soiled the site from decades of industrial use and acquisition of the property is $3.98 million.

The money will be paid to the Gas and Electric Department over a period of months as progress continues on demolition and site cleaning. The sale is scheduled to close by October.

Pictured below workers with Rhode Island contractor J.R Vinagro operate heavy machinery to demolish a metal building. This site will house $168 million high performance computing center.

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