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PEDA is hoping the grant will make it easier for a developer to build on the slab on the parcel known as the 40s.

PEDA Hoping Site Readiness Grant Will Help Develop Park

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — PEDA is hoping MassDevelopment will help make it easier to redevelop the parcel known as the "40s" through a grant program.
The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority gave Executive Director Corydon Thurston approval to proceed with MassDevelopment's Site Readiness Program. The program would bring engineers in to perform a detailed, technical look at the foundation on the parcel along Kellogg Street so any developer has a clear understanding of what it can and cannot do there.
"It brings it up another notch so then when the guy comes, his engineers don't have to do that. That's already done. They can say with confidence, yes I can build it here, yes I can up this size of a building, it can hold this kind of weight," Thurston said.
Engineers who have already looked it have said certain-sized buildings can be constructed. But, they wouldn't sign off on that statement unless more detailed reviews were finished. Thurston hopes this program will take those advanced engineering requirements away, and the parcel will essentially have a blueprint for utility service and the foundation work.
"We are going to spend the money on really analyzing the foundation that exists to ensure that what we can build there, what costs will be involved to cap that foundation if necessary to level it off," Thurston said. 
The engineers, if approved by MassDevelopment, would take core samples and ground penetrating radar to scope out and identify the condition of the foundation. The 3.2-acre parcel is really the one with a foundation to examine. The other, known as the teens, is already being looked at by the developers of a planned Walmart Supercenter. That project remains hung up at the corporate level, as Waterstone Realty waits for approval of the design from Walmart's headquarters to proceed with permitting. 
If for some reason the plan never comes to fruition, Thurston said PEDA would have access to the engineering work the company has already performed. The rest of the sites don't have slabs in place and PEDA knows the conditions of the ground.
The 40s site is of particular interest right now because PEDA has been talking with a manufacturing company for the location. The unnamed company would be looking to build there and use the rail line.
"There are two companies that have expressed interest in it but the big manufacturer we have been courting is still the prime," Thurston said.
If the property does get leased or sold, PEDA and the city would have to pay MassDevelopment back the $75,000 used for the readiness work.  
"We will be obligated to pay it back some day, either long term with no interest or with a lump sum," Thurston said.
In a separate grant application, PEDA is looking to make improvements along that rail line. Both the rail line and the site readiness pieces can be transferable to any other potential suitor in the future if the current company doesn't pan out. 
PEDA Board member Michael Filpi asked if the manufacturing prospect could be one large enough that incentive packages, like the one put together when PEDA was looking to bring a rail car manufacturer to the site, would be possible. Thurston said absolutely, and that he's already offered it on vague terms. But, until the company actually decides whether or not the William Stanley Business Park will be the location, Thurston can't develop what an incentive package would look like. 
"Those are on the table in a generic way," Thurston said.
With that grant process in the works, PEDA officials are optimistic that this summer could be big for them. The Walmart project is in a waiting game, and PEDA officials expressed confidence that it will still go forward. More optimism is shown in securing the additional funds needed for with Gov. Charlie Baker's new $500 million investment in life sciences. 
"This year could be a huge year if these thing connect," Thurston said.

Tags: massdevelopment,   PEDA,   

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Pittsfield Students Receive Superintendent Award

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Emily Mazzeo and Alexander Currie have received the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendent's Award.
Superintendent Jason McCandless began Wednesday's School Committee with a presentation honoring two of the highest achieving students in the school system. 
"This is one of my personal favorite things of the entire school year and these awards," he said. "We have a remarkable run here in Pittsfield of not only recognizing unbelievable distinguished intellects but unbelievable work ethics." 
McCandless first brought Mazzeo, who attends Pittsfield High School, to the podium and read a letter from one of her teachers.
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