Dave Choon builds the framework of what will become a new sidewalk around the Rice Silk Mill apartment complex.
Dave Choon builds the framework of what will become a new sidewalk around the Rice Silk Mill apartment complex. (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Monday April 30, 2012

PITTSFIELD --The developer of a 45-unit affordable housing complex in the city's Morningside neighborhood this week will begin seeking out potential tenants who, if they qualify, could move in by late summer.

The $14.7 million conversion of the former A.H. Rice silk mill into the Rice Silk Mill apartments will benefit working individuals and families who meet state and federal income guidelines.

The rents are expected to be in the range of $650 to $800 for a one-bedroom unit, $750 to $950 for two bedrooms and $900 to $1,100 for a three-bedroom apartment, according to Jon Rudzinski of Rees-Larkin Development.

While rental applications for the housing will be made available starting Tuesday, Rudzinski noted that 60 people have already inquired about the housing.

"I was always confident what we are building would be well received," he said. "My experience is people like it when we renovate such buildings."

"A lot of the interest is from people with ties to the neighborhood," added Elton Ogden, executive director of Berkshire Housing Development Corp. BHDC's Berkshire Housing Services Inc. will be managing the property for the Boston developer.

The project at 55 Spring St. is scheduled to be completed by late July, with the first tenants occupying the apartments in August or September, according to the developer.

Meanwhile, the contractor the city hired is scheduled to resume work this week on the infrastructure improvements associated with the project. From today through May 18, J.H. Maxymillian will complete installation of a new water main on Spring Street from Burbank to Willow streets. During construction, the section of road will be closed to through traffic 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Pittsfield was awarded a $306,000 state grant to upgrade the city's water, sewer connections and sidewalks along Spring, Cherry, Willow and Burbank streets.

City officials, along with the developer, view the public and private construction key to revitalizing the Morningside area.

"Morningside street and sidewalk improvements to gether with the Silk Mill residential project will provide better connections to employment centers, Morningside Elementary, and create healthy new living opportunities in this important city neighborhood," said Deanna L. Ruffer, Pittsfield's community development director.

The transformation of the vacant 132-year-old silk mill factory into affordable housing remains on schedule thanks to summer-like weather this spring preceded by the mild, virtually snowless winter, noted Rudzinski.

"The weather has been hugely cooperative," he said.

The A.H. Rice silk mill last operated as a factory nearly five years ago.

The previous owner, Jim Miller, moved the manufacturing operation at the Spring Street mill to his plant in South Carolina in December 2005.

While several small, non-historic structures have been razed for the creation of a courtyard and more green space, the developer said the rest of the old mill is undergoing a "full historic rehabilitation."

The architectural team of Chelsea and Keith Con struction from Stoughton were hired to refurbish the mill.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.



At a glance ...

  • On Tuesday, rental applications will be available for the Rice Silk Mill apartments under construction on Spring Street in Pittsfield.
  • Prospective tenants for the 45-unit housing complex can apply by call Berkshire Housing Development Corp. at (413) 499-1630, ext. 125 or go online at berkshirehousing.com.
  • Applicants must meet state and federal income guidelines.