PEDA to hear proposal for retail complex at William Stanley Business Park
PITTSFIELD -- A defunct proposal for a retail complex at the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires is expected to be revived next month.
Waterstone Retail Development of Needham, the company that initially proposed the complex two years ago, is expected to present its new plans to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority sometime in July, PEDA's Executive Director Cory Thurston said. The exact date of the meeting has not been set.
The group had been scheduled to appear before the PEDA board at its last meeting, but Waterstone's appearance was canceled at the last minute when Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi had to tend to a political matter in Boston. Bianchi is also a board member of PEDA, the quasi-public agency charged with developing the 52-acre business park.
In December 2011, Waterstone announced plans to construct a 170,000-square-foot retail complex at the business park that its proponents said could bring 150 jobs to the city. That project fell through when Waterstone had trouble securing a tenant, according to Thurston.
The exact details of Waterstone's second proposal were unavailable, but Thurston said "it will be very similar."
"Conceptually, it's the same idea," he said.
Waterstone is a national real estate development, acquisition and management company that specializes in the creation and repositioning of shopping centers throughout the United States. The company's founding principal, Neal Shalom, did not return a call seeking comment.
Bianchi said Waterstone has remained in contact with city officials over the last two years; Shalom spoke to the PEDA board in executive session 13 months ago. The mayor said he invited Waterstone back to the city because there has been significant turnover on the PEDA board during the last two years, and he wanted the new members to consider any new ideas that Waterstone might have for that site. Only Mick Callahan remains from the PEDA board that considered Waterstone's initial proposal.
Like the old proposal, the new one is being suggested for a 15-acre site bordering Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue that is commonly referred to as "the teens."
Waterstone's original proposal came under scrutiny because retail was not one of the original uses planned for the Stanley Business Park on the site of General Electric's former power transformer facility.
"It's my intent to see the site developed from an industrial standpoint," Bianchi said on Thursday. However, he said Waterstone's second appearance at PEDA would give the new board members an opportunity to see if the group's new proposal contained any changes or new ideas.
"I want the PEDA board to understand that we want to discuss all options," he said. "It's pretty clear from what I've said in the past what I want to see."
One of the reasons PEDA is interested in considering a retail complex at the teens is due to the elevation and topography of the 15-acre parcel, which is uneven and would require significant costs to remove the remaining underground infrastructure before it could be developed, Thurston said.
If Waterstone and the city do reach an agreement on a proposal, Thurston said that company would assume the costs of removing the remaining infrastructure.
Bianchi said PEDA shouldn't limit development on that site because of problems associated with removing infrastructure.
"If that's an obstacle then we have to address that," he said. "I don't necessarily believe the answer is to put in a big box store because we have a challenge. It's how do we address the challenge."
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