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Sue Bush
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Pittsfield Wins State Smart Growth Award

12:00AM / Saturday, December 02, 2006

Pittsfield – Mayor James M. Ruberto announced on Friday that the City of Pittsfield was honored by the Massachusetts Office for Commonwealth Development with a 2006 Smart Growth Award for the implementation of the Downtown Arts Overlay District.

Pittsfield was one of 10 communities honored in the statewide competition. Exemplary projects and initiatives undertaken in the towns of Barnstable, Cohasset, Mashpee, Westborough, Abington, and Rockland, as well as the cities of Weymouth, Taunton, and Medford allowed these communities to be chosen with Pittsfield as 2006 Smart Growth Award winners.

“Pittsfield continues to be a model in finding creative ways to energize our downtown, our creative economy, and the entire community,” said Ruberto.

“I would like to thank the Office of Commonwealth Development for recognizing the fine work that (Pittsfield’s Director of Community Development) Deanna Ruffer and others did to make the Downtown Arts Overlay District a reality.”

The following is the description of Pittsfield’s Overlay District project as highlighted in the OCD award announcement release:

City of Pittsfield: Downtown Arts Overlay District

Pittsfield is the regional center for retail, business and financial services. Situated in the center of the Berkshires, Pittsfield is strengthening its economy through downtown revitalization and by embracing a creative and cultural economy – including the development of new cultural destinations, support for the Storefront Artist Project that has resulted in over 50 downtown artist studios, and sponsorship of a diversity of festivals and events.

The purpose of the Downtown Arts Overlay District is to enhance the vitality of downtown by fostering a mix of uses. It creates a core of arts, cultural, and residential activities; encourages pedestrian activity as part of entertainment and residential uses, mixed with traditional retail and business activities; and nurtures artistic contributions to the city.

Since enactment of the ordinance, the City has permitted: 50+ units of market rate housing; Two artistic textile manufacturing businesses, each of which also adaptively reused abandoned buildings; A state of the art cinema center, again adaptively reusing a downtown building including the historic restoration of the building façade.





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