PITTSFIELD -- Developers of a proposed 54-bed retirement home on South Street are on the verge of seeking state approval, one of the last regulatory hurdles for the $10 million project.

As early as this week, Berkshire Retirement Home Inc. will formally request the Massachusetts Department of Public Health endorse plans for a new Berkshire Place, according to the nonprofit's Executive Director Edward Forfa. The large-scale residence at the corner of South and George streets would replace the existing home about a half-mile north between the Berkshire Museum and Colonial Theatre.

Forfa said the DPH anticipates receiving and eventually reviewing the proposal.

"We've already had an informal meeting with them about our plans," he said. "[The DPH] is very familiar with us as they inspect us every year."

In addition, Berkshire Retirement plans to soon seek final city approval from the Pittsfield Historical Commission. The commission must sign off on the project because it involves razing an office building of an historic nature being more than 75 years old, according to the city's Department of Community Development.

Last month, the developer received the required support from the city's Community Development Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

If approved by the city and state, Forfa said the project could get under way by late spring and be completed by the summer of 2014. It would replace the 44-bed Berkshire Place at 89 South St., which was built in 1888 as a retirement home for women.

Overseen by a board of directors, Berkshire Place provides around-the-clock nursing care for both long- and short-term residents.

"We want to be current with our facility and still maintain the programs and services our residents expect from us," Forfa said.

Berkshire Retirement is looking to buy the former St. Teresa's Church at 290 South St. and the adjacent office building at 276 South. The developer plans to demolish them and construct a 44,000-square-foot residence on the combined 3.51-acre parcel. The nonprofit's development team has vowed to design and build a 2 1/2-story facility that fits the character of the neighborhood.

The developer initially had looked at converting the nearly 60-year- old church and its ancillary buildings into a retirement home, but it proved to be cost-prohibitive, the developer has said.

Built in 1954, St. Teresa's was one of six Pittsfield Churches the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield shut down in the summer of 2008.

The remaining tenants in office building next door to the church are expected to vacate the premises before Berkshire Retirement buys the real estate.

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