PITTSFIELD — The William Stanley Business Park’s largest building lot remains empty, but a new state grant has renewed hopes it will some day have a tenant.
The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, which is responsible for the 52-acre business park’s development, has received a $3 million grant — via the city — toward the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the 16.5 acre parcel known as Site 9.
The grant, through the Community One Stop for Growth program, was among several that were announced Wednesday during a ceremony at the Berkshire Innovation Center that featured remarks from Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and Daniel Rivera, the CEO of MassDevelopment, which administers the program.
“This is key to the redevelopment of Site 9,” said Pittsfield business development manager Michael Coakley, who is PEDA’s interim executive director. “We needed this no matter where the other funds were coming from. If we didn’t get this one we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Without elaborating, Coakley said without this contribution from the state it would be difficult for PEDA and the city of Pittsfield to receive additional funding from other sources.
“This is part of the financial stack of this project,” Coakley said, referring to the $3 million grant. “It will allow us to get started early next year.”
The city and PEDA completed a master plan for the site’s redevelopment two years ago. The entire reclamation project is expected to cost more than $10 million.
In March 2021, the city of Pittsfield had received a combined $1.1 million in state money from two separate programs to begin developing Site 9, which borders on Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue at the park’s north end.
An initial $6 million funding request was rejected in 2021, the first year of the OneStop program, but PEDA reapplied in February.
The award was one of five OneStop awards received by the city of Pittsfield this year, and one of several received by other Berkshire municipalities. The largest amount received by any Berkshire municipality Wednesday was the $3.2 million awarded to the town of Great Barrington for the Housatonic Homeownership Project. The combined total of Pittsfield’s four other grants was $610,000.
MassWorks’ Community One Stop for Growth program provides a single application portal and a streamlined review process for different grant programs that support local economic development programs across the state. Before the Baker-Polito Administration established the program last year, local economic development proposals often involved the filing of multiple applications with different grant programs, according to the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
The development of Site 9, once part of General Electric Co.’s power transformer division, has been hampered by the presence of a jumble of concrete foundations left behind by GE. When GE turned that parcel over to PEDA in 2012, it was thought that leaving the foundations in place would make it easier to build on, but that proved not to be the case.
Three previous proposals by a Needham-based development company to turn Site 9 into a retail complex, including one involving a Walmart Supercenter, have fallen through over the last decade, leaving the jagged concrete foundations in place.
Pittsfield Mayor Linda M. Tyer once said the leftover concrete slabs made the site look, “like the surface of the moon.”
“Site 9 has been a wound in our community for a long time,” Tyer said at Wednesday’s ceremony.
Baker, whose administration was instrumental in the construction of the BIC, which is also located in the Stanley Business Park, said he had never seen Site 9 until Wednesday.
“I drove by it on my way here,” he said.
Instead of removing the concrete slabs entirely, which was proposed during the retail complex discussions, plans now call for them to either be cracked or crushed, and covered with a barrier layer topped with up to four feet of fill, Coakley said.
Among Pittsfield’s four other One Stop grants, $525,000 was awarded to the Allegrone Construction Co. to redevelop the Wright Building on North Street into housing.
Blackshares Community Empowerment Foundation Corp. received $55,122 for a cohort-based leadership program for Black community members in Pittsfield. The BIC and the Berkshire Black Economic Council each received $15,000 from the program’s collaborative workspace program.
The Berkshire Black Economic Council will use its funding to create a collaborative workspace for underserved Black-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs in Berkshire County.
The BIC’s funding will be used to explore the possibility of either expanding the existing footprint of the two-story, 23,000-square-foot workforce development facility that opened in 2018, or building an adjacent structure, said Ben Sosne, the BIC’s executive director.