Developer presents ambitious plan for New England Log Homes site


GREAT BARRINGTON — The Selectboard got its first peek this week at an ambitious redevelopment plan for the former New England Log Homes property on Bridge Street, and members seemed generally supportive.

The developer, Community Development Corp. of Southern Berkshire, made a presentation Monday on the mixed-use project, which includes commercial and residential space on the now-vacant parcel off Bridge Street.

CDC is seeking a comprehensive permit under a state program that encourages the development of affordable housing. The program, known as 40-B, offers a streamlined path for the development of projects in which at least 25 percent of housing units are affordable.

In this case, a total of 45 of the planned 81 units — or 55 percent — are would qualify as affordable, according to Timothy Geller, executive director of the CDC.

The Selectboard, which is acting in an advisory capacity, continued the meeting to 7 p.m. Jan. 25, when it is expected to decide whether or not to recommend the project to the Zoning Board of Appeal. The ZBA is slated to meet on Feb. 17 to discuss the application.

The Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Design Advisory Committee also will be required to weigh in.

Geller characterized this aspect of the permit as a "friendly" 40-B application, as the CDC worked with the town to establish the number of affordable units.

The $45 million project also calls for 28 market-rate units and eight market-rate condominiums. In addition, a 28,000-square-foot commercial building in planned for the northwest corner of the site.

The CDC is still in negotiations with the nearby Berkshire Co-Op Market to be the anchor tenant, Geller said. The space will allow for further development by smaller retail vendors.

Geller said project would be built in phases over a three- to four-year period for financing purposes. The total private investment is expected to be about $38,700,000 while the total public investment is $6,300,000, he said.

Annual tax revenues are expected to be about $405,000 when the complex is completely built out.

The CDC will request a waiver for the parking spaces, Geller said, requesting 258 instead of the required 299. Geller explained that 41 of the spaces will be "split-use" lots, with tenants using them in the evening and commercial visitors during the day.

Overall the board seemed comfortable with the plan. There was some concern about traffic and parking, and Geller said a traffic study will be completed at the end of this month. He added that his office has been meeting with neighbors of the project to try to keep them in the loop.

The New England Log Homes site has lain fallow for more than 20 years. The business closed in the 1990s and a fire ravaged the site a few years later. The parcel was an eyesore and a health hazard for years. The CDC bought the eight-acre site in 2007 and razed the buildings in 2012.

An attempt to bioremediate the contaminated soil was deemed inadequate by the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the developers fell back on the original plan to cap the site, as they already had state approval for that route.

The capping process will happen during the development phases, Geller said.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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