WILLIAMSTOWN -- Town officials are currently assessing proposals by two developers competing to build housing projects on two town-owned brownfield sites.

After submitting requests for proposals, the Affordable Housing Committee drew responses from two developers on the two sites -- the former PhoTech Mill at 330 Cole Ave. and the former town garage site at 59 Water St.

Berkshire Housing and Development Corp. of Pittsfield submitted a plan that calls for a three-story, 46-unit apartment building on the 4.7-acre PhoTech site at a cost of $14.47 million.

Arch Street Development, LLC of Boston, the developer that renovated the former Clark Biscuit factory in North Adams, submitted plans for both properties. The proposals call for 60 units of townhomes at PhoTech for a cost of $20.6 million, and a four-story, 25-unit building at Water Street for $9.7 million.

Both developers' proposals include the removal of a large, concrete structure known as the Cube that remains on the PhoTech site.

The committee met this week to review fine details with Town Manager Peter Fohlin, who serves as the town's procurement officer in the public bidding process. Members also agreed to set up a public meeting in late March or early April for representatives from both developers to attend so they can answer questions.

The committee is expected to meet with Selectmen on April 15, when they will make a recommendation on a developer.


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Town officials have long sought the redevelopment of the two brownfield sites, both of which have sat vacant for years. The Affordable Housing Committee created requests for proposals over several months and Selectmen issued them in January for a March 7 deadline.

Committee members met last week to review the proposals and score them on criteria accounting for whether the developer addressed the request and how members felt the proposal addressed topics such as sustainability and affordability.

Members felt the Arch Street proposal would have been more complete with a conceptual site plan, which BHCD provided for its PhoTech site. In addition, members felt they wanted more detail of how the buildings would look and whether the PhoTech plan could accommodate a bike path and access to the Hoosic River.

Some discussion was focused on whether BHDC's proposal for PhoTech would fit in with the character of the Cole Avenue and Mill Street neighborhoods.

Members expressed a concern over the high per-unit cost of the proposals, ranging from approximately $314,000 per unit for the BHDC plan for Photech to $388,020 for Arch Street's Water Street project.

To reach Edward Damon:
edamon@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 663-3741, ext 224.
On Twitter: @BE_EDamon