$1.8 million proposal for former Holy Family Church includes 10 market-rate units


PITTSFIELD — Developer David Carver hopes to create 10 units of downtown market rate housing in the former Holy Family Church building and rectory on Seymour Street.

According to plans filed with the city Community Development Office, the former brick church — owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield — and a rectory building would be converted for housing units.

Carver said Monday the approximately $1.8 million project will be similar to his conversion of the former Notre Dame School off Melville and First streets into 11 residential units in 2013.

The Holy Family Church plan calls for the use of about 17,000 square feet of space to create eight one-bedroom units in the chapel area, a four-bedroom unit in the former rectory, and one three-bedroom unit in former church classroom space.

Carver said his goal is to create apartments that are in the "affordable market rate" housing range. The developer said he intends to work with local lenders and seek historic rehabilitation tax credits and additional support through the state Housing Development Incentive Program tax credits for the creation of downtown market rate housing in the state's Gateway Cities, such as Pittsfield.

The exteriors of the buildings will be preserved, according to the plan. Carver said the buildings "are complicated structures that present some challenges," but that he enjoys that type of design challenge.

A side yard also will be created on the site, along with 18 parking spaces in the rear of the 1.58 acre lot.

Carver said the buildings are historically interesting because they didn't start out as a church and a rectory. They were constructed in 1906 as a powerhouse building for the Berkshire-Pittsfield Street Railway Co., the local trolley service. What became the rectory was the powerhouse building, where coal-fired generators created the electricity to power the trolley cars.

However, the business later moved to a new facility in Pittsfield. The trolley service soon declined, along with those in most other cities, with the rise in popularity of the automobile. The new housing development will be known as the Power House Lofts

During the early 1920s, Carver said, the Polish community, seeking a church of its own, created one in the brick building at 133 Seymour St. The church opened in 1924 and was closed in 2008 along with several other churches with declining parish membership in the Berkshires.

Carver said the buildings are in good condition, although they have begun to deteriorate after being vacant.

He added that, unlike older churches like the former St. Francis Church in North Adams, which is being razed after the steeple collapsed, Holy Family was constructed as a commercial building, with reinforced concrete and structural steel beams.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.


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