Storage center seen as kick-start for Pittsfield plaza's redevelopment


PITTSFIELD - The owners of the former Pittsfield Plaza on West Housatonic Street hope to construct a self-storage facility within part of the defunct shopping center targeted for redevelopment.

Owners Weisman Real Estate of Rye, N.Y., operating locally as Pittsfield Plaza Members LLC, are scheduled to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Aug. 14 for a zoning variance. A building permit for the project was turned down by the inspection department because a self-storage facility is not permitted in a "business commercial" zoning district.

Beverly "B-Mile" Milenski of ReMax Integrity Realtors of Pittsfield, leasing agent for the plaza, said the owners have been working on lighting, sidewalks and clearing out the interior spaces of the retail facility. They also plan a marquee sign at the entrance and will demolish the far western edge of the strip building to better accommodate the movement of large trucks.

The self-storage facility, which will include an office and apartment for a property caretaker, will provide storage space for business tenants of the shopping plaza along with the public, plus around-the-clock security for the businesses, Milenski said.

"The people I've talked to are all very much in favor of this," she said of prospective tenants. According to paperwork on file with the Community Development office, the plaza owners plan to utilize 37,880 square feet of the 105,625-square-foot plaza retail area for the mini-storage unit facility, an office and a caretaker's apartment. About 20,000 square feet at the west end of the 13.8-acre center off 434 W. Housatonic St. would encompass the self-storage units.

"That is the area that is least visible from the road," Milenski said. She said the hope is that construction of the storage units, apartment and office will provide an example of the updated design for the center and prove a catalyst for further development.

She said she's in discussions with "two very strong tenants" that could jump-start the revival of the dormant center.

"This is a really positive thing they are doing," Milenski said. "This will get the construction going and people can see what it will look like. It will set the template for the new center. This will bring life back to a long vacant property."

The 51-year-old center - now called Gateway Plaza - was purchased six years ago by Weisman Real Estate for $2.8 million. The plaza site is listed as having 379 parking spaces, located in front of the retail space, with a central entrance and exit off West Housatonic (Route 20).


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