Berkshire Place has its financing package in place to construct a new skilled nursing facility on South Street.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Place is preparing to break ground on its planned new facility on South Street.
The nonprofit Berkshire Retirement Home Inc. closed last month on a $12 million tax-exempt bond issued by MassDevelopment that will fund the purchase of the properties at 276-290 South St., demolition of the buildings and construction and equipping of a 40,000 square-foot skilled nursing facility.
The current building at 89 South St. has 44 beds; the proposed structure will have 54 Medicare-certified skilled nursing beds.
"Our main building is 125 years old and we've kind of outgrown the space and the opportunities for a skilled-care facility," said Berkshire Place Executive Director Edward Forfa on Thursday. "It will be 10 more beds, it's still going to be small, but it will be all private rooms and private baths."
Forfa said Berkshire Place is 100 percent occupied and there is a waiting list to get in.
The plans, including the demolition of St. Teresa's Church at 290 South St., were approved by the Community Development Board last fall. The nonprofit purchased the church, closed since 2008, from the Springfield Diocese in May for $550,000 and the neighboring former doctors' office at 276 South St. in January for $400,000.
Forfa said the nonprofit has been looking for a new location for some time and was pleased to find one only a half-mile from the current building.
"We wanted to be downtown," he said. "We've been looking at things since 2003."
The church and office buildings were deemed too costly to retrofit so they will be demolished to make way for a modern three-story facility.
The project is expected to create 18 jobs at Berkshire Place and, according to MassDevelopment, another 75 construction jobs. NBT Bank, Adams Community Bank and Glens Falls (N.Y.) National Bank purchased the bond, which was also enhanced by a MassDevelopment guarantee.
"We're pleased to leverage this financing for Berkshire Retirement Home's new facility," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones in a statement. "These skilled nursing services will expand Berkshire Place's care for seniors in the region while keeping its intimate atmosphere."
Forfa said the staff is looking forward to moving to the new location. The original building, next door to the Berkshire Museum, is also a beneficiary of Zenas Crane. It was constructed in 1888 as the Berkshire County Home for Aged Women. The name was changed to Berkshire Place in 1960 and it now provides skilled nursing and rehabilitation, long-term care, residential care and respite care services. It has a Medicare Five Star rating.
The historic building will continue to be used during the construction and relocation of patients and staff. Its future hasn't been determined yet, although Forfa said it may go back to its roots as a senior residential facility. For now, the focus is on the new building.
"Our plan is first things first," he said.