Developer to file plans next week for Walmart Supercenter in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — Nine months after the proposal was initially announced, plans for a proposed $30 million Walmart Supercenter at the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires are nearly ready to be filed with the city, a member of the project's development team said Wednesday.

"I think that we will be able to submit by next week," said Don Harr of Atlantic Realty of Needham, who provided an update of the project at Wednesday's meeting of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority's board. "We're an inch away at this point."

The size of the 190,000-square-foot store also has been increased by 6,000 square feet, Harr said, while traffic improvements will be performed at the intersection of East Street and Woodlawn Avenue on the business park's southern border and where Woodlawn converges with Tyler Street and Dalton Avenue at its northern end. The traffic improvements will be all be conducted within the right of way of all the existing streets, meaning that none of the roadways will have to be expanded to accommodate them.

Project developer Waterstone Retail Development of Needham and PEDA, charged with the business park's development, originally signed a 60-day letter of intent last June to develop the park's 16.5 acre "teens" parcel. But that document had to be extended twice, in August and October, before the two parties agreed to the terms of a both a purchase and sales agreement and a lease for parcel in December.

This is the third time in six years that Waterstone has proposed constructing a big-box retailer on the site, the largest of the business park's nine building lots. The Walmart Supercenter is considered to be the first step in a larger Waterstone project known as Woodlawn Crossing, which would consist of medical offices, life sciences firms, retail, light manufacturing and other development situated around the business park's borders.
Waterstone initially was expected to submit plans to the city by early January.
On Wednesday, Harr said completing the engineering of the teens parcel is the reason for the holdup. Several entities, including Waterstone and Walmart, have their own engineers working on the site, Harr said. Walmart's engineers are designing the project to the standards specified by Pittsfield's Department of Community Development, he said.

"The engineering is as complicated as you can get," Harr said. 

"The existing condition of the property is amazing because it was built over 60 or 70 years," Harr said. "So we're undoing all that.

"Nobody's taking a nap," he said. "The issues are big."

Adding an additional 6,000 square feet to the originally proposed store is a recent development, Harr said.

"Retailers constantly upgrade their prototypes, which they take very seriously," Harr said. "It's amazing, I think, that they decided to increase it rather than decrease it given the current state of retail.

"The retail landscape is not good because more people are leaving and consolidating, but Walmart is looking to expand," he said.

A "grocery pickup area" has been added for those who have ordered online.

The traffic improvements will include signals at both intersections, and a turning lane that will allow eastbound traffic on East Street to turn onto Woodlawn. A left-hand turn lane also will be added where Woodlawn converges with Tyler Street and Dalton Avenue, along with improvements designed for pedestrian safety.

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at 413 496-6224.

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