By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Nearly five years after the Ocean Alliance bought the old Tarr & Wanson Paint Factory on Rocky Neck, the nonprofit says it will be working out of the complex by the new year.
During Mayor Carolyn Kirk’s State of the City address Monday night, Iain Kerr, the ocean research nonprofit’s chief executive officer, announced to a room of about 100 residents that the Alliance will work out of at least one of the buildings— historically, the Tarr & Wanson Paint Manufactory — within a month’s time.
“I expect to have our offices in one of the buildings in the next 30 days,” Kerr said.
Applause echoed in the City Hall auditorium, as residents cheered the long-awaited progress. The Alliance had indicated in March that it expected to be ready to move in and begin operations at some point over the summer, but that never happened, becoming the latest in a series of delays.
Kerr said the structures had “put up a good fight,” requiring millions for environmental cleanup and preparation before the Alliance, which acquired the site in 2008, moves in.
The old paint manufacturing company developed innovative copper paint, which was used on the bottom of boats to prevent barnacles. Kerr has said the Ocean Alliance has already spent around $4 million on the purchase of the site, repair and remediation. Previously, Kerr said that both the brick buildings on site, Buildings “A” and “B,” have been cleaned and gutted, while the nonprofit has had interior ice-blasting done to remove caked on layers of hazardous paint, and pulled out all the old piping.
Kerr said his next step is to begin working on making the other brick buildings work-ready.
He said he plans to implement a robotics lab and a green chemistry lab, where the research agency will work to identify marine problems and find solutions.
As for the dominant wooden building — the iconic Gloucester Harbor structure with “Manufactory” emblazoned on the site — Kerr said he will need to raise another $4 million to $6 million in order to begin work there.
The $6 million estimate reflects a building where the facade could remain as wood, but the $4 million estimate is a more reasonable goal, said Kerr.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.