Berkshire Housing Development seeks to build affordable housing at former Dalton school
DALTON -- Berkshire Housing Development Corp. has presented to the Dalton Select Board a proposal to renovate the old Dalton High School building for affordable housing units, the first plan of its kind in town since the 1980s.
Berkshire Housing President Elton Ogden presented the initial plan this week to the Select Board and outlined the plan that would convert the old high school, located on the corner of Glennon Avenue and First Street.
There was "general support," Dalton Select Board Chairman John Boyle said. Berkshire Housing's plan for the old high school mirrors the one that turned the Historic Rice Silk Mill in Pittsfield into affording housing units just a few months ago.
"Clearly the town wants to see the building utilized," Ogden said. "It's definitely smart growth. It's in town and it's reusing a building instead of building on top of agricultural land."
Members of the Dalton Select Board, Dalton Council on Aging and Berkshire Housing toured the Rice Silk Mill Apartments on Nov. 17, giving them an idea of what to expect out of redeveloping the old Dalton High School building into affordable housing units in Dalton.
The Select Board may vote to approve the start of the project at the Dec. 10 meeting, but will more than likely ask Berkshire Housing for a detailed concept of how many potential units there will be, what they will look like, and how much land will be used, according Boyle.
"It may not be finalized, but it will start the ball rolling," he said.
In September, Town Manager Kenneth Walto contacted Berkshire Housing after a plan to turn the building into elderly housing using HUD's Section 202 housing failed.
"There have been no affordable housing projects in Dalton since the 1980s," Walto said.
Though the housing plan was originally for affordable housing for the elderly, the old Dalton High School building is now planned for a mixture of tenants, "but there's no knowing what that mixture will be made up of yet."
"There's an increasing elderly population and, as we understand it, an increase in demand for units with more than one bedroom," Walto said.
It could take about four years from the initial approval to actually get the building supported by the town, renovated and then have it occupied with tenants.
"It's a long process," Ogden said.
Dalton High School was built in the 1920s. An additional wing was added in the 1950s.
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