$10 Million Site 9 Redevelopment Now Fully Funded
|Tyer in front of a phase 1 rendering for the site that will be bid in the spring
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Shovels will soon be in the ground of a parcel commonly referred to as a "moonscape" and "scar."
On Wednesday, Feb. 15, it was announced that the gap in funding for the $10.8 million Site 9 redevelopment has been closed. The last mile of funding includes $400,000 of Pittsfield Economic Development Authority foundation funds, $1.3 million in GE landscaping funds, and $4.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The project will go out to bid in the spring with an expectation of construction beginning over the summer. Substantial completion could be seen in 2024.
"We are all familiar with the massive 16-acre scar that has sadly been part of Pittsfield's landscape far too long," Mayor Linda Tyer said to a boardroom of local and state officials at the Berkshire Innovation Center.
"And with today's announcement, we close the funding gap and move out of planning and into construction."
The 16-acre parcel at the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Tyler Street Extension previously housed a General Electric factory and is the largest and most prominent section of the William Stanley Business Park. While earlier plans envisioned the parcel for one, large tenant, it has been subdivided to accommodate many buildings and increase flexibility.
Business Development Manager Michael Coakley said that this is wonderful news for the business park and the city.
"For the past 20 years, it's been pretty much non-developable. I've taken several companies out to look at the site, they like a number of things about the state, the location, the fact that the train tracks go right through the park, zoning is already approved," he explained.
"When I bring them out there and they see the moonscape they say if 'I build a 50,000 or 100,000 square foot building we're still going to be surrounded by scar,' so they basically see the moonscape and do the moonwalk right out of there."
The site has also received $3 million from the MassWorks infrastructure program, $880,000 in Site Readiness Program funding from the state's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, $264,000 from the state Brownfields Program and, most recently, a $500,000 earmark from a state economic development bill that was passed in November.
Just last month, Coakley reported to the PEDA that $6.3 million had been solidified so far.
Tyer said that without the ARPA funds, this announcement would not have happened because the project would not be fully funded.
"We really felt that the ARPA funding met the criteria for economic recovery post-pandemic," she explained. "And that was why we identified this as a potential funding source and ultimately decided that it was what we wanted to put on the table as the city's commitment."
Morningside is also an environmental justice neighborhood, which has been prioritized for the funds.
Mark Arigoni of SLR International Corporation has been working on this project for around five years. He explained that plans include green space to increase appeal.
The end goal is to have private investment, private development, and economic development on the site.
"There has been a lot of work over the last four or five months just understanding what's out there, what's underground because one of the main things that we've always wanted to do from day one when we were involved in this project and the PEDA board had the foresight to understand we don't want to just green this site and not make it more attractive for private development," he explained.
"So we're going to try and take care as much as we can underground, cap that site, do what we can to make it a more feasible project for private investment to come and say, 'Wow, now those sites look good. Oh, and you extended the utilities. Oh, and you paved some roads. Oh, and you're creating some permanent green space right out in front. Now it looks attractive to me.'"
Arigoni showed a rendering of the first of four phases of the project, which includes greenery, parking areas, and paved paths.
There has been some interest in the site from possible tenants but they are waiting to see what happens with the redevelopment, Coakley said. Once it is done, Mill Town Capital is looking into developing a portion of it.
Remediation on the asphalt and fencing has been approved by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Edward Weagle of Roux Associated explained that they are going to upgrade the remedy.
"We're going to deal with the material that's on the site now including the concrete and the asphalt, turn that into material that we can then use under a new capsule. The new cap is going to consist of a marker layer, which is going to designate the regulated material that's out there now including this concrete and asphalt," he said.
"And then clean material which is going to be brought in and the cap is going to vary in places. Where we have some green space we're going have a thicker cap, there's going to be more soil over the marker layer to support the landscape plantings and whatnot and where we have this industrial development, it will probably be thinner because the public exposure assumptions are less rigorous."
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier emphasized the importance of teamwork between the city, the state, the Site 9 planning team, and the ARPA team.
"As Mayor Tyer said, this team that was put together is what made this happen. Not one single entity could have done it. The city couldn't do it on their own, the Commonwealth couldn't possibly do it on their own, a developer could not do it all on our own," she said.
"But when we put everybody together when state and local government work together with private entities, that is when we do our very best work. I don't know of a better example in many years in Pittsfield as this example of what's happening here at Site 9."
She pointed out that the team also overcame disappointment, as they applied for the MassWorks grant in 2020 and were not awarded it.
"An extremely important ingredient in that successful bid is that the mayor made it clear that the city was in it and they were willing to put up the capital, their own dollars here from the City of Pittsfield," Farley-Bouvier added.
PEDA Chair Maurice "Mick" Callahan seconded the sentiments on teamwork, adding that the project is a little more than a dream and will be a reality.
"Today I propose we take moonscape off the definition and we go to community and commerce-scape," he said.
"I think it's time."
Site 9 redevelopment funding:
Site Readiness Grant- $800,000
Brownfields Grant- $264,000
GE Landscaping Fund- $1,300,000
PEDA Foundation Fund- $400,000
Economic Development Earmark- $500,000
MassWroks Grant- $3,000,000
Tags: General Electric, PEDA, redevelopment,