Wednesday July 25, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The first tenants of a 45-unit affordable housing complex in the city's Morningside neighborhood could move in by Labor Day, the developer said.

Jon Rudzinski of Rees-Larkin Development expects the Rice Silk Mill apartments ready for occupancy by mid-August. Once lease agreements are finalized, the initial group of renters could be settled in by Sept. 1.

"We expect about half the units leased by the time we open and the project fully occupied by the end of the calendar year," Rudzinski said.

The $14.7 million conversion of the former A.H. Rice silk mill into affordable rentals 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 Rudzinski.

Berkshire Housing Develop ment Corp., through its Berk shire Housing Services Inc., is managing the housing complex at 55 Spring St. While BHDC initially had 60 in quiries about the new rentals three months ago, Rudzinski is pleased with the agency's pace to fill them up.

"Fifty percent occupancy is a great start and indicates the project is being well received," said the Boston-based developer. "I expect we'll have more interest once we have tours of the building."

Rental applications are still available, according BHDC Executive Director Elton Ogden.

"We're ramping up our marketing and outreach to fill the apartments," Ogden said.

The Rice Silk Mill apartments has proven to be a catalyst for the ongoing public and private revitalization of the Morningside area, according to city and community leaders.

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

In addition, residents are more vigilant about the upkeep of the neighborhood, according to Gail Krumpholz, chairwoman of the Morn ingside Initiative.

"Personally, I noticed a lot more neighborhood people cleaning up their yards and getting involved in our recent community cleanup day," Krumpholz 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 were razed for the creation of a courtyard and more green space, the developer will have fully restored the 132-year-old main building.

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

"The restoration looks very good, especially the way they did the bricks," said Ward 2 Councilor Kevin J. Morandi, who represents the Morn ingside neighborhood. "It's great to see the building go from what it was, to what it is now."

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

For rent ...

n Rental applications remain available for the Rice Silk Mill apartments under construction on Spring Street in Pittsfield.

n Prospective tenants for the 45-unit housing complex can apply by calling Berkshire Housing Development Corp. at (413) 499-1630, ext. 129 or visiting berkshirehousing.com.

n Applicants must meet state and federal income guidelines.