Pittsfield Art Partnership Plans New Mural at 348 North St.

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Cara Petricca
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local artist Cara Petricca will paint an original mural this week on the north-facing side of 348 North St. (the alleyway facing St. Joseph's Church). 
 
Part of the Let It Shine! Public Art Partnership, the mural is funded by a MassDevelopment Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Creative Catalyst Grant.
 
This mural and four others will be recognized on Saturday, Sept. 9, at the "Let It Shine! A Celebration of Public Art" event. This will include self-guided tours of the mural sites and a block party from noon to 6 at Palace Park, 116 North St., with musical headliner Sample The Cat. 
 
A Pittsfield native, Petricca's work ranges from mural painting to ceramic sculpture to statement jewelry. She combines her skills in art with her passion for rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife, agricultural, and domestic animals at her sanctuary and studio location, Bluebird Farm in Cheshire. Her work can be found in collections both nationally and internationally.  
 
"My art is a love letter to nature and an invitation to nurture benevolence and healing," said Petricca. "The theme of interconnection and empathy carries through all my work, whether it is a piece of statement jewelry, a sculpture, or a mural. My style is detailed and full of layers of color and texture inviting the viewer to come closer and explore."
 
Per the request of the property owner, Paul Aronofsky, an agricultural theme celebrating his love of pigs and roosters will be depicted in this mural. Pettricca felt this particular theme suited her artistic style perfectly. 
 
"Having rescued many pigs and roosters over the years, I knew that my special connection and knowledge of these animals would aid me in providing the building owner and the community a glimpse into their intelligence and beauty," she said.
 
For more information on Downtown Pittsfield Inc.: downtownpittsfield.com or 413-443-6501.

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Pittsfield's Former Polish Club Eyed For $20 Million Condo Project

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With a sizable grant from the state, the former Polish Community Club is eyed for a 40-unit housing development that adds four additional buildings to the property.

On Wednesday, the Affordable Housing Trust heard from developer Robert Shan about the project that could cost as much as $20 million.  Planners are vying for $10 million through the MassHousing CommonWealth Builder Program created to facilitate the construction of single-family homes and condominiums affordable to households with moderate incomes.

"We're looking not just to do a one-off but to have a presence in Pittsfield, a presence in Berkshire County, and look to bring forward attainable and affordable housing to many communities," he said.

"We see this as as as the first step and it's ready to go. We've put a tremendous amount of work into it and we're looking forward to being able to work with you."

While utilizing the former club, the plot at 55 Linden Street would have five buildings of one to three-bedroom condominiums for first-time homebuyers.  The final costs have not yet been determined but it is estimated that a unit for those of the 80 percent area median income will cost between $150,000 and $200,000 and those in between 80 and 100 percent AMI will cost between $190,000 and $250,000.

The proposed condos are single-story units with an entrance from the street with the first-floor units having a private fenced backyard.  The existing building is staged for single-story condos and two-story townhouses.

Planners aim to bring the character of the 1872 structure into the new construction through colors and architectural elements.

"In developing housing for first-time buyers, we wanted a form that all had entries from grade, from outside without common corridors, without elevators to get that feeling of homeownership," Shan explained.

"While we can't afford to build and get these first-time families at the single-family homes, we wanted a hybrid product that really felt and operated like a home where a lot of the units have backyards, is its own community, etc. So in that, we have not maximized the density."

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