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Mill Town Capital is building new housing along Tyler Street and renovating two other properties.
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Making way for new construction on Tyler Street.
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The rearview of the planned housing.

Mill Town Begins Construction on 36 New Tyler Street Residences

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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A former boarding house built in 1913 will house 16 units, ranging from studio to two-bedroom. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local investment group Mill Town Capital is moving forward with plans to renovate a group of vacant buildings and open spaces along Tyler Street into 36 market-rate housing units and commercial space. The investment is estimated at $6.3 million.

In July, the Community Development Board approved an application from group to construct 20 residential units near Forest Place.

Mill Town's mission is to expand and improve the quality and quantity of opportunities to live and work in the Berkshires. The group manages residential and commercial properties through Blueprint Property Group, aiming to improve safety and living conditions, enhance aesthetic qualities, and keep rents in line with historical neighborhood averages.

Because of General Dynamics and Berkshire Health Systems growing in the region, Mill Town believes that quality housing is a major concern. General Dynamics recently highlighted the critical infrastructure need and the importance housing plays in the local economy in a recent co-signed letter to the mayor's office in support of new housing investments.

Combined with the nearly completed renovation of St. Mary the Morningstar into a housing development led by David Carver of Scarafoni Associates, this will create 65 new residences in a two-block radius by the end of 2021.

"Quality housing has been identified as a major need for employees and employers in Pittsfield. We are excited to be moving forward with plans for two residential housing construction projects -- one of the first major initiatives for new construction multi-family housing in over a decade in the city," Tim Burke, CEO and managing director of Mill Town, wrote in a press release.

"This is an opportunity to create a substantial residential area replacing formerly vacant lots, which will attract people to live in close proximity to key regional employers. We're also encouraged by the job creation component of these projects: both construction efforts will be led by local contractors."

Twenty new housing units will be built at 730-748 Tyler St. with 16 units facing Tyler and four additional units facing Forest Place. They will be a mixture of one and two-bedroom units with the first floor being accessible.

This plot formerly housed Pittsfield Radio and the former Shedd's Plumbing, which had both been vacant for several years. That structure was demolished to make way for the new housing.

Mill Town is focusing on environmentally friendly concepts for these apartments with rain gardens, plantings, and ample outdoor space. Parking is also of priority, as each apartment will have a designated parking space.

The project architect for these units is Utile Design and the lead contractor is Restorations Inc.

Sixteen studio, one-, and two-bedroom units will be created in the former boarding house at 765-771 Tyler St. with commercial space available on the first floor. Mill Town will be renovating the building's parking lot with improved lighting, safety, and traffic flow on Tyler Street.

This project will be executed by project architects Blueline Design and Hill Engineering with the lead contractor is David J. Tierney Jr. Inc.

Additionally, the former Cooke & Burnell building at 741 Tyler St. will be renovated into commercial space for the Tyler Street Lab, which is a community organization that supports a variety of neighborhood stakeholders. The lab had started out at 730 Tyer and then moved to 741. 

The city has been focusing on the renovation of Tyler Street for several years. First, the area was designated as a Transformative Development Initiative district by MassDevelopment, opening avenues to grants and technical help. Pittsfield has been working to concentrate economic development activities, resources, and investments on Tyler with the goal of creating a critical mass of activity that inspires investments by local residents, entrepreneurs, businesses, and additional private development.

In November, Pittsfield received a $3 million grant from MassWorks that will be focused on Tyler Street improvements. These improvements will include fixing the problematic intersection of Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue and doing street scape improvements on roads, sidewalks, and crosswalks.

Pittsfield aims to make Tyler Street a "complete street," meaning that it would incorporate and prioritize many forms of transportation in line with the state's Complete Streets program.

Mayor Linda Tyer said she is thrilled to have Mill Town joining their efforts to revitalize the City of Pittsfield, who have supported Mill Town through a City Council approved Tax Increment Exemption package.

"Through its strategic efforts, Mill Town is helping the city expand and enhance recreational and cultural offerings as well as create vibrant new residential housing and business opportunities," Tyer said in a statement. "The organization's thoughtful and inclusive approach to community impact investment has proven to be a real game changer for Pittsfield and I look forward to our collaborations ahead."

Tags: housing projects,   tyler street,   

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Pittsfield Council to Tackle Tax Rate, Zoning Amendment Proposals

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday will take up the fiscal 2024 tax classification and a proposed battery energy storage overlay district.

On the agenda are public hearings for both items, with the tax rate continuing from last month.

The administration has requested a commercial shift of 1.75 that would result in a residential rate of $18.45 per $1,000 of valuation and a commercial rate of $39.61 per $1,000. After several councilors expressed concern about raising taxes, it was tabled.

"You are driving people out of Pittsfield," Councilor at Large Karen Kalinowsky said at the late November meeting.

The residential rate for FY23 was $18.32 per $1,000 of valuation and the commercial, industrial, and personal property rate was $39.21. If the council adopts the FY24 shift, there would be a 13 cent, or 0.7 percent, increase for residential and a 40 cent, or one percent, increase for commercial, industrial, and personal property.

An average home valued at $267,914 would pay an estimated $4,943 in property taxes, representing a $397.82 increase from the previous year when the average home value was $248,100. This would amount to about $33 additional dollars a month.    

Commercial properties would see a less dramatic increase of about $145, as the assessed median value has only increased by $1,550 from FY23. This would result in a tax bill of $8,377.52 for the median commercial property.

The Community Development Board has brought forward an amendment to the Pittsfield Zoning Ordinance by adding a new section under Chapter 23 of the City Code, titled the "Battery Energy Storage System Overlay District.” 

This would allow Pittsfield to embrace greener energy sources while protecting the interests of residents.

The goal is to provide regulatory procedures for BESS and BESS facilities, outline the application process for site plan approval and special permit applications, specify which districts are comparable with the use, discuss site requirements for each district where it is permitted, and require that interested departments respond with comments and concerns within 14 days of the application.

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