Great Barrington ZBA seeks public funding guarantee in multi-use development

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GREAT BARRINGTON >> The town's Zoning Board of Appeals has continued a hearing on a proposed $45 million multi-use project so the developer can produce evidence that promised state funding will be forthcoming.

The developer, Southern Berkshire Community Development Corp., is seeking a special permit for the project on the former New England Log Homes site off Bridge Street.

The proposal already has earned the recommendation of the Selectboard. The ZBA hearing will be continued at 7:30 p.m. March 22 in Town Hall.

The CDC aims to reuse the 8-acre site by building a mixed-use complex that will feature retail space as well as affordable and market-rate housing units. The project would be funded by a total of $38.5 million in private funding and $6.5 million in public funds.

The ZBA is considering the application under the 40-B statute, which allows a residential developer to apply for special permit from a single municipal entity if at least 25 percent of the units qualify as affordable housing. In this case, 45 of the proposed 81 units — or 55 percent — will be affordable.

The ZBA continued the hearing largely because it is awaiting a "site eligibility letter" to guarantee the funding for the housing component from the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

Timothy Geller, executive director of the CDC, on Thursday said he expected he would be able to obtain the necessary documentation.

"It's a legal issue, and we're working it out with the DHCD," he said. "But I'm confident we'll get there."

Geller also said he was sympathetic to a request by the Selectboard to provide a cohesive design for the affordable and market-rate units.

Selectman Stephen Bannon told the CDC that he could easily tell the affordable units from the market-rate units.

Geller said the designs would be made more uniform in the final iteration.

"The last thing we want to do is design those buildings in such as way as to make that delineation," he said. "We're building a neighborhood there."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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