The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority has long had a ground lease in place for the Berkshire Innovation Center. But as the project has evolved, the roles of various parties have altered -- thus the required paperwork changes were needed to align.
"There really hasn't been any changes other than all of the name changes and re-writing," Executive Director Corydon Thurston said.
The agreements include a ground lease for the parcel at the William Stanley Business Park, a grant from PEDA to BIC, and acceptance of the Massachusetts Life Science Center's contribution to the project.
The news isn't so much groundbreaking, but rather steps toward groundbreaking.
The Berkshire Innovation Center was set to be constructed a few years ago but the bids for the project came in too high. The city agreed to chip in $1 million to help close that gap for construction, PEDA agreed to chip in $300,000 more for operations, and then the Massachusetts Life Science Center upped its contribution.
That brings the total project up to $13.7 million. Part of closing that gap also comes with the transferring of the grant from the city -- which had the first earmark because there was no Berkshire Innovation Center Inc. at the time -- into the hands of the private nonprofit.
With those changes, PEDA essentially had to craft new legal agreements surrounding the project. Meanwhile, BIC has to ramp up its efforts to get construction set to begin. Once all is in place, a groundbreaking can be held.
"The big change was that PEDA is now a signatory in the Mass Life Sciences grant," said Beth Goodman, PEDA's attorney who has been working on the legalese of the project.
The provision that if Berkshire Innovation Center Inc. does not live up to the grant's requirements, "PEDA agrees to evict the BIC Company as set forth in the lease and operate the BIC in accordance with the purposes stated in the MLSC grant," according to the agreement.
The agreements could still change should the other parties involved require substantial modifications. But PEDA's vote to give Thurston credit to sign the newly crafted agreements is a step toward clearing the red tape for construction to begin.
"This has been a long time coming. We are excited about the opportunity to continue our partnership," said Chairman Mick Callahan. "We're still doing the good work on behalf of our board, our park, and our partnership."
Another step toward a groundbreaking has also been initiated with the re-formation of a Design Review Committee. For projects at the William Stanley Business Park, a committee consisting of a PEDA board member, the city's director of community development, and another tenant of the park must first review all of the design specifications.
Callahan said the process will likely be short-lived and take place over a couple meetings in the next few months.
A groundbreaking for the Berkshire Innovation Center is still expected to take place in the fall.
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