PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The site of a proposed Walmart Supercenter will be back on the market following a year of inactivity.
Pittsfield Economic Development Authority Executive Director Corydon Thurston said since Walmart pulled out of the plans developed by Waterstone Retail to redevelop the 16.5-acre site at the William Stanley Business Park there hasn't been any new activity. PEDA has signed an agreement holding the property for the developer for a year and that expires on Saturday.
"We've had no communications with anyone," Thurston said.
Waterstone had put down $65,000 toward the purchase of the parcel known as the "teens" as a non-refundable deposit. Had the project gone forward, that deposit would have gone toward the purchase price.
Waterstone developed plans for the "Woodlawn Crossing" project for the development of a 196,000 square-foot Walmart Supercenter. After Waterstone filed for permits on the project, Walmart released a statement that it no longer had any interest in the project. Waterstone later pulled the plans and planned to find another retailer to take its place.
The Needham developer had sought out the park on multiple occasions to develop a retail center -- though not always a Walmart -- and each time the project faced significant scrutiny from the public and city officials. Some in the city saw it as a good way to inspire more development in the park, provide jobs and increase the tax base, and contribute to helping revive Tyler Street. But others fought fiercely against it saying the park was never meant for retail and the focus should be on using the city's large commercial development sites in the city's core for something better.
As Saturday's deadline passes, the $65,000 deposit will then fall into the hands of PEDA. Thurston said the money has been listed as a liability on the organization's books while it waited for an out. That will now just flow back into PEDA coffers.
"The budget won't change next year because of that but the results for this year will," Thurston said.
In other business, construction of the Berkshire Innovation Center is pacing well, according to BIC's new executive director Scott Longley
"We are on schedule and moving forward," he told the PEDA board on Wednesday morning.
Longley said the organization is now looking at purchasing more equipment, is talking to prospective new members, and running training programs. He said he's been in contact with some 60 companies about joining and three startups had reached out to the BIC about being housed there.
Thurston added that the underground work on the 20,000 square-foot center is complete and the rest is "above ground." The center is on pace to open next fall.
Meanwhile, the marketing efforts of PEDA is going to be scaled back significantly in the coming year as those efforts are transitioned to city. PEDA, the city, and the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp. had previously agreed to share the costs of a business development manager. In turn, PEDA reduced spending on its executive director and shifting many of those functions to the new position.
PEDA member Paul Dalton reported that a group consisting of all three of those organizations began the development of a marketing plan for the entire city. The business development manager took the lead on that and the hope is the marketing plan will help attract businesses.
City Planner CJ Hoss updated the board on the Transformative Development Initiative for Tyler Street. The TDI district doesn't include the park, but the park is just on the perimeter and PEDA officials have been involved in helping that along in hopes that Tyler Street development will help lead to development in the park.
Hoss highlighted the efforts to develop a streetscape plan for Tyler Street with hopes of getting capital funding for the reconstruction in 2020. He said four storefronts were or are being improved through the Storefront Improvement Project and there is still some $50,000 to $60,000 to spend. He also said new zoning efforts are being undertaken to encourage more development in the area.
Thurston also reported on Wednesday that Eversource is looking to sign a short-term lease of a parking lot on the property. Eversource plans to use it to store poles for work on a large local project.
Waterstone fully intends to move forward with a development at the William Stanley Business Park. The company has spent five years and hundreds of thousands of dollars designing the project, which had been aimed at bringing a Walmart Supercenter to the site 16.5-acre site known as the teens.
Waterstone Retail has filed its request for a special permit to build a 196,000 square-foot Walmart Supercenter at the William Stanley Business Park. The developers signed a letter of intent to purchase the 16.5-acre parcel known as the "teens" at the intersection of Tyler Street Extension and Woodlawn Avenue.
PEDA is in a waiting game for the two most highly publicized efforts to redevelop the William Stanley Business Park. The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority officials say they've done their part in bringing in Waterstone Realty and the Berkshire Innovation Center, but both projects had faced delays. PEDA is now waiting for the state to help fill a funding gap for the innovation center, and Waterstone is still waiting for Walmart corporate to approve the latest redesign of the proposed s
If Pittsfield doesn't want Walmart, Lanesborough will take it. The Board of Selectmen have asked Town Manager Paul Sieloff to reach out to Walmart officials and ask if they'd consider building the supercenter on the Berkshire Mall property instead of in Pittsfield.
Charter objection! For just the third time since the new charter went into place, a debate was halted on the City Council floor because of the rarely invoked charter objection. The objection halts debate and pushes a vote off until another meeting. It is included in the new charter the city adopted in 2013.
It was only Tuesday evening when Director of Public Service David Turocy once again made a pitch to secure funding to fix up East Street from Lyman Street to Merrill Road. He was the sole vote on the Metropolitan Planning Organization to schedule that construction for 2022, the only available funding through the transportation improvement program.
The permitting process is next for Waterstone Retail, which is looking to build a Walmart Supercenter at the William Stanley Business Park. On Wednesday the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority approved a purchase and sales agreement with the developer for the parcel known as the "teens." The company is looking to build a new 190,000 square-foot retail center at the intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Tyler Street. The project is estimated to cost some $30 million.
The developers of the proposed Walmart Supercenter at the William Stanley Business Park has put down $20,000 toward the purchase of the land. The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority extended the letter of intent with Waterstone Retail Development until the end of December, making more time for the two sides to reach a purchase and sales agreement. In good faith, Waterstone has put down a $20,000 non-refundable deposit toward the purchase.
The City Council opted against asking Waterstone Realty for an independent economic impact study on the proposed Walmart Supercenter at this time. The council voted 6-4 against Downtown Pittsfield Inc.'s request to have the developer pay for an independent consultant to analyze the economic the project to build a 190,000 square-foot store at the William Stanley Business Park. However, some councilors said they'd like a study done, once a proposal is made and the once the scope of the study is
If Anton Melchionda, principal with Waterstone Retail, had a manufacturer looking to move to the teens complex of the William Stanley Business Park, he'd build the building. But, he challenged anyone and City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo to find it.
These three open houses follow an event in May focused specifically on the Waterstone Development proposal to site a 190,000 Walmart Supercenter on a challenged lot in the small urban business park near Tyler Street. Another public presentation will be held by Waterstone on Monday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m. at Morningside School.
The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority extended the timeframe to reach a land lease agreement with Waterstone Realty for the development of a Walmart Supercenter. On Tuesday, PEDA approved the extension to the letter of intent. Executive Director Corydon Thurston said the original 60-day window was "too aggressive" and hopes to have an agreement before the board by the next meeting.
The City Council wants a chance to ask the proponents of a new Walmart at the William Stanley Business Park some questions. However, the council needs another organization to host a discussion to avoid legal conflicts. So, the council agreed to ask the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority to host one with the developer Waterstone Realty in the City Council chambers.
Joe Castoldi has run his barber shop for years on Tyler Street, just a block away from where the proposed Walmart Supercenter is eyed to be built. The supercenters often have a salon inside the building so one would think Castoldi would be worried about competition - especially competition from such a large corporation. But he's not.
For the last 10 years Evan Hickok has formed good relationships with many of his co-workers at General Dynamics. They are recruited from out of town, come to work as engineers, and the staff at the Pittsfield facility grows a friendship. And then the young professionals leave for what they see are greener pastures. They leave for the city life of Boston or New York envisioning a thriving social scene and nightlife.
The ultimate say over the project may come before the City Council, which will be asked to approve a special permit because of the size of the store. So far, the majority of the City Council says they are keeping an open mind about the project and waiting for additional answers.
Walmart's Director of Public Affairs & State and Local Government Relations Chris Buchanan says, "holding out hope for industrial development of the site does a disservice to the residents of Pittsfield." He said the cost to remediate the land, fix the stormwater runoff, and road work adds up to $12 million, a cost few companies would bear when there are other properties for development at a lower cost.
In an interview on Wednesday, Bloomberg argued that despite increased jobs and tax revenue, the city's long-term economic picture is hindered by such a development. He would rather the city took a more aggressive approach at bringing in light manufacturing and other higher-paying jobs to the site.
As the proposed Walmart Supercenter debate begins to unfold, the developer's claims of increased tax revenue reflect what happened in North Adams. In 2013, the company closed the store it had been occupying for since 1993 and moved down the road to a former gravel bed. The gravel bed had been assessed at $1,613,800 and the redevelopment upped the value to $10,694,900, according to Ross Vivori, chairman of the North Adams Board of Assessors.
Finally. The Woodlawn Avenue Bridge is finally opened after being closed for a decade. City, state and Pittsfield Economic Development Agency officials commemorated the re-opening of the north to south connection between the Morningside Neighborhood and East Street. The bridge used to be own by General Electric and was closed in 2006 and was demolished in 2012.
Part of the selling point for the new Walmart at the William Stanley Business Park is that it will ease an environmental burden on PEDA coming down the road. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new draft permit for the Pittsfield Economic Development Agency's ability to drain stormwater into Silver Lake.
Wal Mart is looking to move to the William Stanley Business Park. The Pittsfield Economic Development Agency granted Waterstone Retail a letter of intent, giving the company and exclusive right to pursue development of a 16.5 acre parcel known as "the teens," where General Electric buildings once stood.
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Pittsfield City Council to Discuss Homeless Solutions
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday sent a group of petitions regarding the city's homeless population to the subcommittee on Public Health and Safety.
The three petitions ask officials to consider measures to safeguard the homeless and begin a conversation about homelessness within the city limits.
"I am glad we are having this discussion, and I look forward to hearing it," Councilor at Large Peter White said. "This has been an issue here for a long time and having people live in the park is not a long terms solution."
Late into the six-hour meeting Tuesday, councilors came to the agreement that although Connell is spending much of his time quarantining out of state, his primary residence is still in Pittsfield.
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