City Of Pittsfield awarded $880,000 MassDevelopment Site Readiness Grant For Former GE Property
The City of Pittsfield has been awarded an $880,000 MassDevelopment Site Readiness Grant to begin Phase One of the redevelopment of Site 9, the largest and most visible parcel, in the William Stanley Business Park. Pittsfield, one of 10 municipalities across the state to be selected for this competitive grant, received the largest award.
The news was announced during the state’s virtual press conference Tuesday morning for the FY21 Site Readiness Program hosted by Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Mike Kennealy, Housing and Economic Development Secretary, and Dan Rivera, CEO and president, MassDevelopment. Attendees invited to deliver remarks included Mayor Linda Tyer, Senator Adam Hinds, Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and Mick Callahan, Chairman, Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA).
Site Readiness awarded projects, which totaled $3,184,000, provide vital resources to municipalities, private sector businesses, and nonprofit economic development entities to overcome obstacles to developing otherwise prime sites for large-scale industrial and commercial use. The state received 29 applications from municipalities throughout the Commonwealth.
“This program which we proposed back in our economic development bill in 2015, and funded by the legislature in 2016, is a pretty important part of how we help communities reimagine properties. While that’s certainly an economic development issue, it’s also an environmental issue. The more opportunities we have to put existing properties back to work is less property that we need to greenspace into something else. We certainly feel that this program can really make a big difference helping communities build their future,” said Gov. Baker.
Following the state’s announcement, the city held its virtual event to further highlight the significance of this award and its impact on the city.
Sitting on 16.5 acres, the Site 9 parcel is the largest and most visible section of the Business Park, which remained undeveloped and in a state of deterioration for over 20 years. Funding will incorporate the design and engineering services required for the design, environmental permitting and bid-ready documents for the phase one development plan including roadways, utilities, storm water quality, greenspace and fees to crush the existing concrete. It will ultimately transform the parcel into a green space, complete with internal roadways and utilities. The site will subdivided so that developers can select their desired parcel.
PEDA was also awarded a $264,000 Brownfield Remediation Grant to assist in further characterizing the site and to ready it for redevelopment.
Mayor Tyer said the funding represents a pivotal step and investment in Pittsfield’s future.
“This is phenomenal news for the City of Pittsfield. I am exceedingly grateful to the Baker-Polito administration and MassDevelopment for their support and belief in Pittsfield. A tremendous amount of planning and effort went into the preparation for this competitive grant. This Site Readiness Grant Award reflects the solid partnership between the city and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, state partners, and our unwavering commitment to continuously strengthening Pittsfield’s position for new and expanding businesses at the William Stanley Business Park,” she said.
We are thrilled to know that this funding marks a crucial first step toward initiating the groundwork for the preparation of this site, moving us one step closer toward our vision for the transformation of the William Stanley Business Park.”
Chairman Callahan acknowledged the legacy of the site and its longstanding role in the city.
“This generous grant from the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDevelopment will build upon the positive momentum for the City of Pittsfield and the William Stanley Business Park including the opening of the Berkshire Innovation Center and the planned construction this summer of a 20,000 square foot building on Site 4,” he said.
“It’s important to not only look at this parcel as the center of the city, but it was the hub of our economy for many decades. The important part is the evolution of where we are going. I am proud of our relationship with the city of Pittsfield. The state has done a lot to recognize Pittsfield and the strength of our economic fabric,” said Callahan. “Tyler Street is a destination and home to people. We are an important custodian at the end of Tyler Street to make sure that we’re doing a good job on keeping our promises and delivering on the goals that we have as a board.”
Michael Coakley, the city’s Business Development Manager, and Interim Executive Director of PEDA, said the site’s revitalization will make the site more appealing to businesses.
“I have taken several businesses to the site, but they were all reluctant to invest their funds due to the unknown costs associated with the preparation of the site,” he said. “We needed to do something different and make it more attractive to businesses. So last year PEDA and the city hired Tim Eagles of EDM, Mark Arigoni, PLA, from SLR International Corp. and Ed Weagle of OTO to perform a planning study for Site 9. Based on those results, myself, Deanna Ruffer, the city’s Community Development Director, and Mark worked together to complete an application for the Site Readiness Program.”
During the city’s virtual event, Arigoni discussed the specifics of the project.
“We are extremely honored to be part of the ongoing collaborative master planning efforts that have created a dynamic vison for the redevelopment of Site 9. The phased approach to implementation will transform the site from gray to green - initially making necessary infrastructure improvements to better support future private reinvestment - and reserving key areas of the site for public open space in perpetuity,” said Arigoni.
Mayor Tyer noted the synergy between the revitalization of Site 9 and the other initiatives in the Morningside neighborhood. She highlighted the recent conversion of the St. Mary Church into the Morningstar apartments, as well as the various private investments currently underway along the Tyler Street corridor and upcoming Tyler Street Streetscape and Roundabout project.
“This parcel is connected to the other work happening in Morningside. In addition to what we’re envisioning here, as you know we’re already well underway with the Tyler Street Streetscape and Roundabout project. We recently received a $3 million dollar grant from MassWorks to accomplish that work. The key intersection is right up there in the corner, where the roundabout will be constructed,” she said.
So you see we have a critical mass of projects that will enhance this historic neighborhood. I’m really very excited about this work that’s happening in this part of the city. It’s really important for our future, it’s going to improve opportunities for business and the quality of life of the neighborhoods that are abutting the William Stanley Business Park.”
Tim Burke, of Mill Town Capital, affirmed his business’ commitment to the area.
“Mill Town has been a focused supporter of the Tyler Street area for the past several years. Our projects include improving existing housing stock, investing in new residential developments, and supporting community efforts such as the Tyler Street Lab and the Berkshire Dream Center,” Burke said. “Seeing public investment from the city and state alongside the private investment and community projects ongoing in the Tyler Street neighborhood is a positive sign for the future of our city, and represents a critical need. As residents, we are encouraged that the City of Pittsfield is making it a priority to move beyond our past to a new future with unlimited potential.”