Deval Patrick visits Pittsfield on Friday for launch of new affordable housing project


PITTSFIELD -- Gov. Deval L. Patrick plans to join city officials and the developer in celebrating the completion of a $14.7 million affordable housing project they view as a key to revitalizing the Morningside neighborhood.

The governor's press office has confirmed Patrick is scheduled on Friday to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Rice Silk Mill apartments at 55 Spring St. The event is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m.

The one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments will benefit working individuals and families who meet state and federal income guidelines.

The first tenants of the 45-unit complex have already moved in, with another nine to be leased by Nov. 1, according the Boston-based developer.

Jon Rudzinski of Rees-Larkin Development says Patrick's visit will show the importance of the project to the city and state.

"It's an indication how of how involved both are in creating affordable housing," he said. "The governor's appearance also recognizes the years of hard work on the local level."

While construction began last October, the developer, city and state began working together nearly three years ago to help convert the 133-year-old former A.H. Rice Silk Mill facility into affordable rental units.

City planners approved the project in May 2009, but it took the developer another two years to secure $7.7 million in state and federal historic tax credits toward funding the project. The state also awarded other grants to help fund the housing complex, including the $306,000 Pittsfield spent to upgrade the city's water, sewer connections and sidewalks along Spring, Cherry, Willow and Burbank streets.

While the project's manager, the Berkshire Housing Development Corp., has received more than 125 rental applications to date, the local agency is encouraging more families and individuals to apply.

The rents are expected to be in the range of $650 to $800 for a one-bedroom unit, $750 to $950 for two bedrooms, and $900 to $1,100 for a three-bedroom apartment, according to Rudzinski.

The Rice Silk Mill apartments has proven to be a catalyst for the ongoing private, as well as public, revitalization of the Morningside area, according to Ward 2 Councilor Kevin J. Morandi.

"The project has been great for the neighborhood, giving people a sense of pride," said Morandi, who represents Morningside. "[Residents] have stepped up to clean up their properties and watch out for each other."

The A.H. Rice silk mill last operated as a factory nearly seven years ago. The previous owner, Jim Miller, moved the manufacturing operation at the Spring Street mill to his plant in South Carolina in December 2005.

While several small, non-historic structures were razed for the creation of a courtyard and more green space, the developer has fully restored the 133-year-old main building.

The architectural team of Chelsea and Keith Construction from Stoughton were hired to refurbish the mill.

To reach Dick Lindsay:,
or (413) 496-6233.


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