Former Concord Steam plant, and its chimney, to be torn down

  • The Concord Steam Corp. plant in Concord as seen on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. ELIZABETH FRANTZ

  • A truck filled with wood chips pulls up to the Concord Steam plant off of Pleasant Street in Concord, July 2016.

  • The Concord Steam Corporation plant on Pleasant Street. Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 8/24/2019 3:29:26 PM

Two years after it went cold, the former Concord Steam plant, including the chimney that has towered over south Concord for many decades, is nearing its final days.

The state has put the demolition of the 45,000-square-foot building out to bid. Work may start before winter and the structures should be gone by next July, said Michael Connor, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Administrative Services.

“The budget is $1.76 million. … A large part, close to a million dollars, is asbestos and hazardous waste removal,” he said.

Connor said the proposal would proceed in two steps. The first will remove the building and chimney, leaving a portion of one wall that helps support Industrial Drive.

“Then we want to hire a structural engineer to look and make recommendations about how we will retain that wall,” he said.

The current plan is to eventually use the area as a parking lot, with one small garage left as a carpenter shop for state use.

Old factory chimneys are often left standing as historic landmarks – the chimney at the former Page Belting Co. factory alongside I-93 Exit 15 in Concord is a good example – but the Concord Steam chimney isn’t in good enough shape to keep, Connor said. About 40 feet had to be removed from the top in 2017 because of danger that it could fall.

Plans to build a nearby parking garage on the site of some torn-down buildings associated with the former state hospital have been put on hold because bids came in much higher than expected, Connor said.

The power plant dates in some form back to the turn of the 20th century. It originally provided steam heat to the state hospital and in 1977 was bought by Roger Bloomfield, who connected it to a small plant on Bridge Street that heated some downtown buildings to create Concord Steam. Bloomfield converted the boiler from oil to wood chips at about the same time. The Bridge Street plant was demolished in 1981 and is now a parking lot.

The company grew over the years, eventually providing steam heat through underground pipes to more than 100 buildings, both in the Hugh Gallen State Office Park and throughout downtown Concord. Plans to mothball the aging power plant and build a new one were scuttled by the 2008 financial crisis, and then customers began shifting to cheaper natural gas heat. When the state announced that it was shifting much of its heating needs to gas, the company ran out of money, shutting down in May 2017.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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