PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Preservation Committee approved a recommendation to the City Council Monday that would put $100,000 towards CT Management's plans to convert the former Tyler Street Fire House into residential units.
"Ever since I moved back to Pittsfield 2007, this has been a topic for any group that looks at history, this building, what's to be done with a Tyler street firehouse," Chairman John Dickson said Monday. "The Historical Commission was really pleased to see this application come forward, and obviously you all know the historic significance of this building."
CT Management owner David Carver said Monday that the $100,000 would likely go towards buttoning up the deteriorating roof. He actually submitted the application off-cycle fearing the building would not sustain another winter
Also, he did not want to secure the property without financial assistance.
After releasing multiple Request For Proposals to no avail, the city has considered demolishing the building that has rapidly deteriorated over the years.
"I want this committee to understand the city has been strongly supportive of this application being off-cycle because we have been trying for 20 years to find a developer of this property," Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer said. "And in fact, in the last 10 years alone, we have issued six requests for proposals, four of which resulted in no one applying to buy and redevelop this property."
The apartments will be market rate, as the project is not large enough to consider adding subsidized housing units.
The fire station is a Joseph McArthur Vance building constructed in the early 1900s. Vance was a prominent architect in Pittsfield who designed residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational buildings.
A small original section of the back of the building is proposed to be demolished and replaced with parking spaces. This section, Carver added, has a collapsed roof.
Efforts will be made to best match the original brick with the new materials or if possible, the original bricks will be reused.
"When we remove the rear section most of the wall that will remain of the main building is and we will infill what is open with brick that matches as close as we can get," Carver said. "In this particular case, it's a historic building we're trying to preserve, I think it'd be perfectly appropriate to try to reuse the brick."
Carver is known for preserving as much of the interior and exterior detail of original properties as possible while meeting functional requirements and building permits.
In the last decade, CT Management has repurposed many Pittsfield structures into apartments including the Power House Lofts on Seymour Street and the Notre Dame Residences on Melville Street. Most recently, the Morningstar Apartments on Tyler Street were built in the former St. Mary's Church.
Committee member Jonathan Lothrop voted in favor of the funding but expressed concern for the panel considering another out-of-cycle application.
"This is a process we make ourselves, we're a new group, we're a new committee, there isn't a lot of precedents here," Dickson replied. "And actually, I've kind of prided ourselves, even before I was chairman the year before, that we did this informally and it seemed to work out, and we made up things as we went along, including the decision-making process, but not in a way that was unfair, or unethical or anything we just work together largely through consensus."
Member Libby Herland added that she believed there was an "imminent threat to this building" and the panel did not have much of a choice but to consider if off cycle.
Member Edward Carmel was the only one to vote in opposition. He believed that the late application should not have been approved for the sake of following protocol.
"It should not be allowed. I'm sorry," he said. "I don't know how much this committee is open-minded, or how much we need to follow a protocol because this is not following anything, this is just picking an entity and just letting them do whatever they want to do."
The project will be also subject to a special permit from the Community Development Board and will be on the agenda for the next city council meeting.
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Schedule and Policy Changes at the Berkshire Museum
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Special hours will be in effect next week as the Berkshire Museum prepares for the Aug. 6 grand reopening of its fully-renovated second floor.
The museum will close early at 4 pm on Sunday, Aug. 1, and will remain closed to the public Monday through Thursday, Aug. 2 through 5. The Berkshire Museum reopens Friday, Aug. 6, with an all-new second floor complete with five new exhibitions.
Beginning with Member Preview Days on Aug. 2, all Berkshire Museum visitors ages two and older will once again be required to wear protective face coverings throughout their visit and will not be permitted inside the building without a mask or other suitable face covering.
Since statewide masking policies were lifted in late May, the Berkshire Museum has strongly encouraged visitors to carry on wearing face coverings to protect its many young visitors under the age of twelve who cannot yet be vaccinated. This week's switch to mandatory masking comes in response to recent CDC guidance and changing COVID-19 conditions in the region.