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The West Side Legends unveil their first renovation project: A 1922 home converted into two 2-bedroom condominiums. The collaborative project has already lined up several other buildings for rehabilitation.
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The roughly 800-square-foot units are selling for $159,999 and $169,999.
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Once the surrounding structures are rehabbed into condos and single-family homes, a common outdoor area will link the neighbors.
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The next house to be redone is a five-bedroom home expected to be completed this fall.

West Side Legends' First Home Revitalization Sets Visionary Goal

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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An open house this past weekend gave community members a chance to see how the housing program could revitalize the neighborhood.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The first phase of the West Side Legend's initiative to "Buy Back Our Neighborhood" includes the transformation of an outdated single-family home into two modern, affordable condominiums.

An open house was held at 28-30 Daniels Ave. over the weekend so that the community could see what is possible in the historic neighborhood. This is one of four structures on two abutting properties that are being revitalized.

"I'll be honest, some people don't want to live in the West Side. They lived here for a long time and they want a house somewhere else," President Tony Jackson said.

"But if we can get deliver a house like this and have them see a new vision: 'I want to stay now.'"

The 1922 home was converted into two 2-bedroom, one-bathroom units with Ikea kitchens, new appliances, restored hardwood floors, and a front and back deck. The roughly 800-square-foot units are selling for $159,999 and $169,999, which is about $100,000 less than the average home value of about $270,00 in the city, according to Zillow.

With the principal/interest at 7 percent, taxes, insurance, and a $125 homeowner association fee, the buyer's total monthly payment would be about $1,500.

Through the group's homeownership program in partnership with Greylock Federal Credit Union, Jackson said first-time homebuyers can purchase a condo with no money down and a few thousand dollars at closing. The program has more than 35 people who are looking to get away from renting.

This is the nonprofit's first buyback house. They had 10 investors who contributed money in the belief of their neighborhood to purchase the house.   

It was bought in April.
The project also has a number of sponsors: the Crane Foundation, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, Guardian Life, Gray to Green (Berkshire Regional Planning Commission), Berkshire Taconic, Aaron's, RSI Signs, Berkshire Environment Action Team (BEAT), and Milltown Capital.

"It is a very unique project where you have different people from the community all gathered to basically rebuild," Jackson said. "I keep saying the rebirth because it's important. One person, one group can't do it by themselves."

Pittsfield resident Duane Kerber, who specializes in renovating houses, saw what the nonprofit was trying to do and offered his expertise to the effort.  

He explained that the goal was to bring something to the neighborhoods that buyers could enjoy without having to fix.

"Then the other thing was to redevelop this area in such a way that it becomes the viable community that it really is and people see it," Kerber said, adding that this will build a community and six opportunities for well-deserving families."

A great deal of the housing in the West Side is aging. The nonprofit believes if it can upgrade the old stock to modern standards, the whole neighborhood will start to redevelop.

There are three other structures that are planned for the same treatment: a five-bedroom single-family home next door with a structure in the back that will become two condos and a building in the back of 28-30 Daniels Ave. that will become a three-bedroom house.

The five-bedroom home is expected to be finished in four to six weeks and when all of the structures are finished, it will create a whole complex with a common area, a fire pit, a grilling spot, and parking.

The HOA fee will cover all of the exterior upkeep of the home and grounds so that owners only have to worry about paying their mortgage, taxes, and utilities.

"It's going to be something new that Pittsfield never saw before," Jackson said.

"People have to see it and that's why we're building this, so people can see it. That's our concept. And then we have further plans."

He explained that they have also come up with a neighborhood revitalization plan in collaboration with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity and are trying to pull multiple entities together to implement it.

The WSL is also looking into building new housing, with a 20-unit complex that will have commercial property on the first floor on the horizon.

"I can say two years ago we didn't even think we could ever build a house," Jackson said. "We're going to have two done this year."

Tags: home improvement,   neighborhood program,   renovation,   

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Wreath Art Auction

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Wreath Art Auction is back in-person at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Friday, Dec. 2.
Dozens of local artists and members of the Springside Greenhouse Group have created original holiday wreaths, centerpieces and more. The preview party and sale begins at 5pm and the live auction will take place after the Park Square Holiday Tree Lighting at 6:30 pm. 
Tickets will be available at the door for a suggested donation of $10. Light food and beverages will be available.  100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of these original works of art will be donated to the South Congregational Church Food Pantry. The Wreath Art Auction has raised more than $30,000 over the years for the food pantry. 
The wreaths will be delivered and installed at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 10am-2pm and previewed on the Cultural Pittsfield Facebook Page.  
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