Wednesday April 27, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Thirteen years after its inception, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority is on the verge of bringing the first business tenant to the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires.

MountainOne Financial Partners, which is based in North Adams, announced Tuesday that it plans to begin construction this summer of the 5,500- to 7,000-square-foot Mountain One Financial Center at the park off East Street. The building will be on a 1.3-acre, leased parcel overlooking Silver Lake in the 52-acre park.

MountainOne has 225 employees and assets of $800 million. The holding company's affiliates include Hoosac Bank; Williamstown Savings Bank; the Coakley, Pierpan, Dolan & Collins Insurance Agency; and True North Financial Services, each of which will have offices in the new building.

The MountainOne Financial Center represents a significant expansion for the company into Central Berkshire County. The company opened an office on North Street in Pittsfield last year, but will eventually move it to the Stanley Business Park. MountainOne Financial Partners will keep its headquarters in North Adams.

There was no word on how many jobs would be created at the new site, and the company's principals declined to divulge construction cost projections. "It's a substantial investment," Keagan said.

The facility is in the very early planning stages. Both Don Keagan, the president and CEO of Hoosac Bank, and PEDA Executive Director Corydon L. "Cory" Thurston said they expect the two parties to sign a definitive lease agreement within the next two weeks.

"We're looking for occupancy by the end of the year," Keagan said. "That means we're trying to get this going fairly soon."

MountainOne will also need to acquire the appropriate permits from the city of Pittsfield before construction can begin. But unlike some other sections of the park, all of the environmental restrictions where MountainOne plans to build are already in place. Thurston said he expects the groundbreaking to take place by early or mid-summer.

"We're moving this on the fast track," he said. "It's been a work in progress for probably about a year."

Other projects have been proposed at the Stanley Business Park, but fell apart prior to construction. But Keagan and Thurston said they are confident that this one will be completed.

"We're confident enough to issue a press release that says we're going forward with this," Keagan said.

According to Keagan, MountainOne began thinking about moving to the Stanley Business Park three years ago.

"We've been looking at the Pittsfield area for a large space to accommodate our needs," Keagan said. "It's been on our radar screen for a while.

"It's not the least expensive option, but we wanted to go down there and be a contributor to the city," he continued. "We thought we would be better off doing that there than in other locations."

A quasi-public agency, PEDA is charged with the development of the 52-acre Stanley Business Park.

The Stanley Business Park is a brownfield, once home to General Electric Co.'s former power transformer facility. The land has to be cleaned of PCB contamination before it can be turned over to PEDA. To date, Only 36 of the park's 52 acres have been treated and transferred to PEDA, which was founded in 1998.

Keagan said MountainOne plans to pursue having the structure certified under U.S. Green Building Council standards.

"I think an environmentally green building down there on a brownfield site is a good story," Keagan said. "There's a renewal type theme to it."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:

tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com

(413) 496-6224