Friday October 12, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- It’s easier to remember what Downtown Pittsfield Inc. is when its office is located at street level instead of inside an office building.

That’s executive director Pam Tobin’s opinion, and she said the organization’s decision to move from the Central Block on North Street to 33 Dun ham Mall across from City Hall this year has already provided big dividends.

"It’s been like night and day," Tobin said on Thursday, when DPI hosted an open house at its new location.

"Now that we’re here, we’ve got our signage on Š our many windows," she said. "People drive by, they’re walking by. It’s created a lot more visibility."

Founded in 1983, DPI is an association of businesses, down town property owners, residents, cultural and nonprofit organizations that fosters the growth and economic activity of Pittsfield’s downtown corridor.

DPI was located with several other agencies on the third floor of the Central Block on 75 North St. for some 12 years before moving to Dunham Mall, Tobin said. The organization officially moved to Dun ham Mall in July following two months at a temporary location at 100 North St.

"It was a decision that the board made to really go back on our own at the street level in a highly visible location, which would bring more recognition to the organization that had kind of waned in the past," Tobin said.

One of the agencies that DPI shared space with in the Central Block, the Berkshire Chapter of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, moved to 33 Dunham Mall in August.

The two organizations share space with state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier’s office. The Pittsfield Democrat moved her office to Dunham Mall two weeks after DPI did.

The Berkshire Chamber of Com merce, the main agency that occupied that third floor office suite in the Central Block, moved to the historic central fire station building on the corner of Allen and Fed eral streets earlier this year to join the two other regional devel opment agencies that make up 1Berkshire.

The central fire station is located only a short distance from Dunham Mall, but Tobin said Downtown Pittsfield Inc. was interested in occupying its own space instead of partnering again.

The Dunham Mall property is owned by local developer David Carver of Scarafoni Associates, who is a DPI board member.

"We wanted to be in our own space," Tobin said. "We wanted the street-level visibility, because we wanted to show our members that we were accessible and that we were an organization unto ourself.

"I think there was a lack of identity, I guess, with DPI," she said. "We still work very closely with the chamber. But we look at the chamber as looking countywide, while our organization is focused on downtown."

Tobin joined DPI in Feb ruary when former executive director Yvonne Pearson re tired. DPI has created a new membership brochure, she said, and is putting new systems into place that include finding "good, solid volunteers" that are interested in serving on more formalized committees.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.