PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state released a $125,000 allocation to move the St. Mary's redevelopment project along.
The City Council accepted the grant from the state on Tuesday and the money will fund upgraded infrastructure to the project and preserve the terracotta roofing and campanile tower. The $6 million project is being undertaken by CT Management and will transform the St. Mary the Morningstar property into 29 market-rate housing units.
"We will go through our bidding process for the water line, which is required because of the fire-suppression system, and the preservation of the terracotta roof and campanile tower," Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer said.
Ruffer expects the specifications and request for proposals to be prepared in December and the bid and work to begin early in 2019. She said the water line is a fairly straightforward project and the city has already expanded capacity from the south side of Tyler Street to the north side, where the church and accompanying four buildings are located.
"I expect we would have it out to bid after the first of the year," Ruffer said.
The grant was part of the state's budget and was petitioned for by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who made that allocation her sole budget amendment request. The funding helps close a funding gap in the project for developer David Carver, who is attempting to renovate the vacant buildings at a price point at which rents will still be affordable to the market.
Work has already begun on the campus. The project received a boost when Mill Town Capital partnered with Carver in the project. Mill Town matched Carver's equity in the project to help secure bank loans. The demolition and securing of the buildings, at least one of which has sat vacant for three decades, began in the fall. Carver hopes to have construction start in early 2019 and apartments available by that fall.
The project will encompass the entire 2.6-acre campus.
The church itself was nearly knocked down in 2014 when Cafua Management sought to purchase the land and build a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru. That triggered significant outrage among the community who didn't want to see the buildings razed. When Cafua Management backed out of that deal, Carver made an offer.
He purchased the property from the Springfield Diocese last year.
With a new investor on board, CT Management has just about all of its funding in place to redevelop the St. Mary the Morningstar campus. Developer David Carver purchased the property at the end of 2017 with plans to transform the historic property into 29 market-rate housing units.
Each representative across the Commonwealth filed a number of amendments for specific projects in their district. This year, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier is putting all of her efforts behind just one: St. Mary the Morningstar.
The City Council can’t wait for the St. Mary’s renovation. The council opted against fleshing out a tax increment exemption at the subcommittee level and approved it Tuesday night to help move the project along.
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