PITTSFIELD -- A plan to convert the former Notre Dame School on Melville Street into apartments and craft-related manufacturing spaces has won swift and unanimous approval from the city's Community Development Board.

David Carver of Scarafoni Associates, who is overseeing the project, said that a building permit will likely be sought in March and construction could begin soon afterward on the "million-plus" dollar conversion project.

The plan also calls for demolishing a dilapidated house at the corner of First and Melville streets and adding a landscaped green space. That demolition work is under a separate permit.

Robert B. Macintosh of Bradley Architects Inc. of Pittsfield, the project's architect, said the interior work would largely retain the existing classroom spaces in creating five first-floor apartments and six on the second floor of the old parochial school.

Nine of the 11 apartments are 795-square-foot one-bedroom units. The two first-floor, two-bedroom apartments are 1,066 square feet, located on either side of the front entrance.

Sam Kasten Handweaving, which has occupied the building, will retain an operation in the cellar level. The downtown Arts Overlay District, where the 41 Melville St. site is located, allows "specialty artistic manufacturing," and also encourages development of housing in existing buildings, the developers noted in their application submission.

The zoning calls for 13 parking spaces, but the developers plan 21 spots.

The board also granted a waiver from affordable housing requirements, as requested by the developer in part because the project is funded privately.

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