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The City Council on Tuesday referred a request for a tax financing agreement to the council's subcommittees.

Brewery Planned For Downtown Pittsfield

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council will consider a tax financing agreement with 41 North Tap Room, which has eyed North Street to develop a brewery, tap room and kitchen.
The council on Tuesday referred an allocation of funds from the Economic Development Fund and a tax increment financing agreement to benefit the development of a brewery and tap room at 41 North St. 
"Prior restaurants that have occupied the space proposed for the brewery and tap room have struggled, in part due to the size and layout of the space," Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer wrote in a letter to City Council. "The proposed development of a brewery in this space is able to take advantage of ... the layout and size of the space, thus, increasing the likelihood of long-term success for a business in this critical location in the center of downtown." 
Proposed developers Montra II, whose main principal is Robert Trask, also owns 51 Park Restaurant and Tavern in Lee and, according to Ruffer, Trask plans to purchase 37-45 North St., site of the former J. Allen's Clubhouse, and invest $1.7 million in the property including its purchase.
"His business plan sets a vision for creating a place where people will come, relax and feel a sense of community," she wrote. "Mr. Trask is using his experience as owner of an existing successful business and many years as a home brewer, as well as consultations with other successful brewers to develop his plans for the Pittsfield location."
She continued that the brewery will also be a full-service restaurant with a seating capacity around 150. The brewing operation will be visible from the bar.
"He believes the combination of offering the experience of a brewery with an innovative menu will be attractive to beer connoisseurs and will distinguish them from the other breweries," she wrote.
The city is proposing allocating $150,000 from the city's Economic Development (GE) Fund to help purchase brewing equipment secured by a 10-year security interest in the brewing equipment.
Some $100,000 of this will be dispersed once the company purchases the property and a purchase order is executed for the equipment no later than the end of 2020.
Another $25,000 will be released six months after the company documents that there are 20 full-time employees with an average salary of at least $36,500 no later than the end of 2021.
Another $25,000 will be released six months later once the company documents that there are 20 full-time employees with an average salary of at least $36,500 no later than the end of 2023.
Both Hot Harry's and the Evangelistic Ministry Church are currently in the building and Trask intends to continue lease agreements with them.
As for the five-year TIF agreement, it will work similarly to past agreements with 100 percent of the incremental increase in real estate property taxes forgiven in the first year, decreasing by 20 percent a year over the five-year term.  
41 North Tap Room would be on the hook for investing the $1,700,000 in the property as well as creating 30 full-time jobs within five years. 
The jobs include operational management for brewery and restaurant, head brewer, marketing staff, cooks, servers, bartenders and support staff. 
Ruffer estimated $38,500 in property taxes would be forgiven over the agreement while $146,000 in property taxes would be paid.
The City Council referred the Economic Development Fund allocation to the Committee on Community and Economic Development and the TIF to the Committee on Finance.
Councilors Patrick Kavey and Yuki Cohen abstained from both votes.
In other business, the City Council accepted an order from Mayor Linda Tyer declaring 19 city-owned properties surplus and available for disposition. The parcels are valued above the state Department of Revenue's land-of-low-value threshold and a value will need to be determined.
The council also authorized the sale of all city-owned parcels that are land of low value by public auction. The list spans 40 parcels that have been assessed at less than $22,500. These properties were taken for the non-payment of taxes 
"Ultimately these will be put together for the purpose of an auction but the process of approving them for disposition is different," Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said. 
He said the city does not intend to sell the properties, many of which are homes, at assessed value because the city wants these homes to be purchased and renovated.
"These are homes we want people to purchase and rehab," he said. "We don't want to set that price too high to set a barrier for someone who wants to put the money in necessary to live in it or sell it."
He said the city has had some of the parcels for some time now and they are all buildable. He said some already have structures on them while others are vacant.
The City Council accepted a donation of materials and labor in the amount of $34,649 from J.H. Maxymillian Corp. to repair some of  the Doyle Softball Complex dugouts at Springside Park.
"As soon as the weather becomes more favorable, Maxymillian will get up there and complete the donated work," Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath said.
He said two sets of dugouts will be addressed and the project would likely take less than a week.
The council accepted a Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security State 911 Department grant of $11,733.94.
 The council accepted a FY20 Training Grant of $10,412.48 from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security State 911 Department.
 The council accepted a $64,210 grant from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. These funds will be directed toward design and permitting for the removal of the Wild Acres No. 2 Dam, a project anticipated to begin in the late summer of 2021.


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Arbor Day Celebrations Planned in Pittsfield

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield Department of Community Development Parks and Recreation Program will be hosting two community Arbor Day events to celebrate the life and achievements of Robert L. Presutti.
Presutti is a longtime city resident who volunteered many hours with both the Parks Department and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
The first ceremony will take place on Friday, April 26 at 12 p.m. at the Berkshire Athenaeum, Bartlett Avenue side of the building. On Sunday, April 28 at 12 p.m., the city will host a Bob Presutti Tribute Day at Springside Park, located at 874 North Street. 
Both events will happen rain or shine and light refreshments will be provided.
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