Stetson Dry Cleaners, built in 1948, will be razed and eventually used for parking.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will soon demolish a longtime dry cleaning business adjacent to City Hall whose building has fallen into disrepair and been abandoned by its owner.
City Planner Cornelius J. Hoss told the Pittsfield Historical Commission on Monday that the former Stetson's Dry Cleaning on Federal Street will be torn down within the next two months.
The notice was advisory, as the property is not old enough to come up for review and approval by the commission under the criteria of the city's Demolition Delay ordinance.
The dilapidated building, which lies sandwiched between City Hall and the larger Howard Building currently being redeveloped for apartments, was constructed in 1948 at a cost of $50,000 by Earl J. Stetson, and remained in the Stetson family until 1996.
At the time of its opening, Stetson was "hailed as the most modern dry cleaning plant in the area," according to its Form B inventory for the Mass. Historical Commission by historian Lisa Sauer. The 7,000-square-foot shop also included a fur storage vault and repair shop.
According to city records, it was ultimately purchased by Sandhu Narinder, but has been vacant for several years. After finding the building abandoned, unlocked and open to the elements in May, the city issued a summons to Narinder giving 24 hours to correct and abate the problem by demolition.
The city will now take ownership of the property, but that process will take time due to the environmental issues, though demolition of the blighted property is not dependent on that timetable.
"For now, even without owning it, we can take it down," explained Hoss, who said the city will use federal money from this year's Community Development Block Grant to fund its removal. "It'll probably be a year or two before we actually take ownership."
There have been environmental concerns about redevelopment of the property, because of the possibility of contamination by chemicals used in the dry cleaning operation, leading to the determination to demolish the building and cap the parcel, utilizing it only for parking in the foreseeable future.
"It's anticipated that there really isn't that much contamination." Hoss told the commission. "At some point if there's enough for demand for property, it's a buildable lot so it could be used down the road as that, but for now it just makes sense for us to cap it."
From 10 to 15 parking spaces would result from the eventual lot at the site.
"We probably won't be parking there from day one, but we hope it will be soon [after taking ownership]," said Hoss.