PITTSFIELD -- The surface was damp with rain Thursday, but officials breaking ground for a new 54-bed Berkshire Place at 290 South St. didn't seem to mind.
Nearly two dozen representatives of Berkshire Place, which now is in a smaller facility at 89 South St., general contractor Allegrone Construction Co., and city and state officials were on hand for the formal groundbreaking -- strategically arranged under a tent beside the ongoing foundation work.
"We are really excited," said the nonprofit organization's executive director, Edward Forfa. He said the 54-bed, $10 million facility remains on track to open next fall.
PHOTO GALLERY | Officials break ground for new Berkshire Place facility
The 3.51-acre building lot -- set off South and George streets -- was the location of the former St. Teresa's Church and an adjacent office building at 276 South St. Those buildings were razed to clear the site.
Two current residents of Berkshire Place, Janice Selkowitz and Linda Nuciforo, were on hand for the groundbreaking. "This will be beautiful," Selkowitz said, referring to both the building design and view from the elevated site.
Berkshire Place has long been "a vital part of the downtown," Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said. "This will be a tremendous new facility."
MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development agency, has issued a tax-exempt bond on behalf of Berkshire Retirement Home Inc., which operates Berkshire Place, to assist the project.
Berkshire Place expects to create 18 jobs as a result of the project, along with 75 construction jobs, according to MassDevelopment calculations, the state agency said in a press release. NBT Bank, Adams Community Bank and Glens Falls National Bank purchased the bond. The bond was enhanced by a MassDevelopment guarantee.
The 44,000-square-foot residential facility will replace the existing Berkshire Place at 89 South St., which was built in 1888 as a retirement home for women. Berkshire Place, first known as the Berkshire County Home for Aged Women, was established in accordance with the wishes of Zenas Marshall Crane of Crane & Co. in Dalton. The home adopted the name Berkshire Place in 1960.
Berkshire Place is licensed by the state Department of Public Health to provide skilled nursing and rehabilitation, long-term care, residential care and respite care services.
"We're doing this because of the age of the existing building," Forfa said when the project was announced earlier this year. "We want to replicate what we offer today with more amenities."
Forfa said the need for short-term nursing rehabilitation has been growing, and Berkshire Place seeks to expand those services at the new building.
To reach Jim Therrien:
or (413) 496-6247
On Twitter: @BE_therrien