Pictured here is the kitchen of the model unit in the Rice Silk Mill.
Pictured here is the kitchen of the model unit in the Rice Silk Mill. (Caroline Bonnivier Snyder)
Monday October 15, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The first tenants of a 45-unit affordable housing complex in the city's Morningside neighborhood have moved in, the developer said.

So far, nine of the Rice Silk Mill apartments are occupied, with another nine to be leased by Nov. 1, according to Jon Rudzinski of Rees-Larkin Development.

While interest has been high for the affordable housing --125 rental applications have been received to date -- Rudzinski is encouraging more individuals and families to apply.

"We haven't committed to all 45 units," he said.

The project will benefit working individuals and families who meet state and federal income guidelines.

Meanwhile, the Boston-based developer, local and state officials will gather Friday at the Spring Street housing complex for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the project's completion. Gov. Deval L. Patrick has been invited to attend, but his press office late last week hadn't confirmed his schedule for that day.

The $14.7 million conversion of the former A.H. Rice silk mill into affordable rentals began a year ago this month, with construction work essentially completed in late August. Tenants were allowed to start moving in on Oct. 1.

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.


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Berkshire Housing Develop ment Corp., through its Berk shire Housing Services Inc., is managing the housing complex at 55 Spring St.

"The leasing has been going like gang-busters," said BHDC Executive Director Elton Ogden. "We will have a good mix of senior citizens, families and individuals and there will be a waiting list for sure."

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, the project is key to the continued revitalization of the area, according to Gail Krumpholz, chairwoman of the Morningside Initiative.

"They are going to make great neighbors and I look forward to get the [tenants] involved in the neighborhood," said Krumpholz.

The A.H. Rice silk mill last operated as a factory nearly seven 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 has fully restored the 132-year-old main building.

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

"We knew we had a quality property, but once it was cleaned up, it fooled me how good it turned out," Rudzinski said.

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