Mayor Linda Tyer, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito speak during the virtual announcement, with Farley-Bouvier on Tyler Street to show how Site 9 is connected to other projects in Morningside.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A site that General Electric abandoned with its departure decades ago will have a new life thanks to a booster shot from the state.
Pittsfield has received $880,000 in Site Readiness Program funding from the state's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development for the redevelopment of Site 9 at the William Stanley Business Park.
"This program, which we proposed in our economic development bill back in 2015, ultimately approved and enacted and funded by the Legislature in 2016, is a pretty important part of how we help communities reimagine properties," Gov. Charlie Baker said in making the announcement over the Zoom platform on Tuesday. "And while that's certainly an economic development issue, it's also an environmental issue. The more opportunities we have to put existing property back to work, it's less property that we need to green space into something else."
The city was one of 10 communities in the commonwealth that received the 2021 funding, which totaled $3.2 million statewide. Pittsfield was awarded the largest allocation.
Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito were virtually joined by Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, MassDevelopment President & CEO Dan Rivera, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, state Sen. Adam Hinds, and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier among other local leaders to announce the funding awards.
"[The grants] really will make a difference for you to be able to better position these parcels, these assets, of yours into a higher better use," Polito explained. "And what that produces is more tax revenue, when you're thinking about the impact on your payers, your business community, and your residents diversifying and expanding your tax base, clearly helps a lot. And when you have more revenue to work with you can drive better service, which all adds up to a stronger quality of life that you sort of promote and advertise as part of your community's brand."
The Site Readiness Program administered by MassDevelopment aims to increase the commonwealth's inventory of large, well-located, project-ready sites, accelerate private-sector investment in industrial and commercial projects, and support the conversion of abandoned sites and obsolete facilities into clean, actively-used, tax-generating properties.
During fiscal 2020, the agency financed or managed 41 projects generating an investment of more than $2.6 billion in the Massachusetts economy. The projects are estimated to create or support 10,000-plus jobs and preserve about 1,700 units of housing.
"This site readiness grant award is just one more example of the collaborative spirit that exists here in Pittsfield," Tyer said.
She explained that this project really began in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when the city and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority completed a master plan for Site 9 that laid the groundwork for Tuesday's award.
The 16-acre parcel previously housed a General Electric factory and is the largest and most prominent section of the business park. Tyer said it currently resembles the "surface of the moon" because of deterioration over the past 20 years and will be made a more attractive option for private sector development with the use of this funding.
"Today's award will be used for the engineering and design phase which is required to prepare the engineering the environmental permitting and good ready documents necessary for the next phase," Tyer explained. "Which is construction and construction includes site roadways, utilities, stormwater management, and the estimated work around cracking and crushing the existing concrete."
The mayor reported that the developed Site 9 could be used for industrial manufacturing, warehouse, commercial, retail, and office space. This work will also complement and support several other recent and ongoing revitalization projects that are underway in the Morningside neighborhood including the Tyler Street Streetscape and Roundabout Project the city received $3 million in MassWorks grants for and surrounding private investments made by Mill Town Capital.
Last year's award ceremony was made remote from the onset of the pandemic and the representatives expressed that they wished to be meeting in-person to commemorate the 2021 Site Readiness Program.
Farley-Bouvier utilized the Zoom platform to attend the meeting from the intersection of Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue, which will be transformed into a roundabout with MassWorks funding and sits right across from Site 9.
By standing at this location, Farley-Bouvier displayed how the commonwealth has partnered with the city of Pittsfield to make economic development progress. She rotated her camera to display the St. Mary's Church renovation into the Morningstar Apartments, the Woodlawn Avenue bridge that was reopened in 2016 to allow for double-decker trains to pass underneath, Berkshire Innovation Center in the distance, and Site 9 -- all in close vicinity of one another.
"The professional team that we have in our Community Development Office, the leadership of Mayor Tyer, it's really outstanding, and when we work together as a team with local, federal, and private partners, that's when we do our very best work," she concluded.
In a public forum following the award announcement, Pittsfield planners explained the specifics of this grant and how it ties into neighboring projects in the Morningside community.
"The Williams Stanley park represents the future," PEDA Chairman Mick Callahan said in the forum. "I think it's important to not only look at this parcel as the center of the city but it was the hub of our economy for many, many, many decades going back centuries and part of this I think is the evolution of where we're going."
City Planner CJ Hoss gave a presentation on the Tyler Street Streetscape and Roundabout Project that will mitigate traffic flow and make the street more pedestrian-friendly and Mill Town Capital CEO Tim Burke outlined the investment firm's involvement in the Morningstar Apartment development and its 29-housing unit project on Tyler Street.
Tyer believes that one of the most important aspects of this project is how the public investments the city has made have led to private investments.
"I think the city is doing the right thing in terms of taking the first step to help attract private development because I think private development has a lot of interest in the region," Burke said. "It's promising for the neighborhood, it's promising for the city, and I think, simply from a resident standpoint, we're happy to see the progress over there and I think everybody in that neighborhood should be pleased that this is headed in the right direction."
The city's Business Development Manager Michael Coakley said he has presented the parcel to several businesses who were reluctant to invest funds into space because of its current condition and the costs associated with the preparation of the site. This told the city that action needed to be taken, he said.
The redevelopment plan is a phased approach that will begin with the city designing improvements for the parcel and then starting construction. The grant will make an internal roadway possible within the parcel as well as prepping the concrete and pavements for development and utility extensions.
"It's important to know that that $880,000 grant that they just received and everybody is excited about it, it's not just design and engineering it's also implementation money so that things will actually be starting to see be seen on the site as progress, which I think is very important not only for the city but also for private development," Mark Arigoni of SOR Consulting said.
He also noted that the design is flexible, meaning that the parcel could be divided to fit the needs of more than one business and that reserved open green space will be set aside.
When the site is capped, the intent will be to do as much below-ground infrastructure work as possible with regards to the extension of utilities. The first initial phase of construction is to do work that will make the site more attractive and easier to develop as well as accommodating utilities, and then some initial roadways will be constructed.
A second rendering of the shite shows how multiple entities might use it.
Several concrete areas that are planned for development and green space will also have to be crushed. It is estimated that about half of the $880,000 grant will go toward cracking and crushing concrete over the 16- acre parcel and the balance toward design.
The city has also received $264,000 from the state Brownfields Program that empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, clean up, and reuse brownfields or a site that may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
"Our hope is to begin this phase, maybe this summer work through the fall with the completion of this phase happening in 2022," Tyer said. "While all that work is underway. We're going to continue seeking opportunities for funding from other sources to move into the next phase of the work that's required in order to install, utilities, and the roadways and do the greening."
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Health Systems is changing it visitation guidelines beginning Wednesday to one visitor per patient and requiring medical-grade masking within its facilities.
Berkshire County has seen a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases, suspected to be the Delta variant, and an increase in hospitalizations.
Some 60 new cases were reported over the weekend, and more than 100 since July 22 as well as two deaths. More than half the new cases in the past week are from North Adams Commons, where 30 residents and five staff members were found to be infected. Much higher numbers are being seen in the eastern part of the state.
"COVID-19 is resurging across the nation, but, for now, Berkshire County remains among the areas of low to moderate positivity," said Dr. James Lederer, BHS' chief medical and quality officer. "Our health-care facilities are safe, and our community should have no hesitation in seeking out the services they count on from our health-care providers.
The former American Legion post home at 41 Wendell Ave. will house the new facility, which is slated to open in the fall. It will feature two 3-year-old classrooms, one prekindergarten class, and a private kindergarten class that is new to the curriculum.
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Project elements include widening of the existing roadway, turn lanes at intersections, a 14-foot grass median, reconstructed traffic signals, and infrastructure that is currently lacking.
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