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Building 12 is at the bottom, the middle structure is Building 100, and the top is Building 14.

Pittsfield Historical Commission OKs GE Demos

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The former General Electric campus continues to be chipped away as two more building demolitions are planned next to Site 9.

The Historical Commission on Monday gave the OK for demolition requests for Buildings 12 and 14, located along Tyler Street Extension and the railway. Building 100 sits between the two and is not part of the project.

The environmental abatement and demolition of the buildings will be done by Brandenburg Industrial Service Co. of Bethlehem, Pa. It will remove multiple contaminants and the structures down to the slab and cap the waste consolidation areas.

"To be simple about it, they're ugly," Project Manager Glenn Milarczyk said of the two structures.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved GE's work plan to demolish the buildings and consolidate debris within the subsurface vaults located in the buildings. Work is expected to begin in the spring.

"The buildings no longer serve any commercial purpose and will be deconstructed," the demolition delay application reads.

The approximately 176,000-square-foot Building 12 was originally constructed in 1914 with additions in 1925 and 1949.

It housed several manufacturing operations throughout the years. GE's Power Transformer Department operated the final assembly, testing, and shipping of large transformers until 1968 and from then to 1986, the department operated a vacuum tank and bushing assembly operations. The building also has a second-floor office.

The building was mainly used for equipment storage in the last decades.

The approximately 278,000-square-foot Building 14 was completed in 1931.

From that time to 1986, it was mainly used for transformer tank assembly and operation of the machine shop that prepared components of transformers and small parts. By 1990 it was primarily used for equipment storage.

Materials including liquids, light bulbs, and asbestos-containing materials will be removed and shipped offsite for disposal.

Commissioner Carol Nichols recognized that this is an "incredible undertaking."

"I certainly appreciated the complexity of the description of what you guys are going to be doing with all the materials," she said.

While these properties are still owned by GE, the abutting parcels have been transformed into the William Stanley Business Park, and Site 9 is on the brink of a dramatic renovation.

After a $9.8 million bid was awarded, work began on the 16-acre parcel at the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Tyler Street Extension. Once the concrete surface that has been described as "the face of the moon" and a "scar" is remediated, final plans include areas of green space and roadways for traveling within the parcel.

The project was fully funded earlier this year. The last of the 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.

Tags: demolition,   General Electric,   historical building,   

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West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

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