Aerial view of the Morningside Fire Station (copy)

The former Morningside firehouse in Pittsfield, which has not been used as a fire station since 1970, will be converted into four two-bedroom, market-rate apartments. CT Management Group says the benefits of a 10-year tax agreement with the city will go straight to future tenants.

PITTSFIELD — CT Management Group officials say that the benefits of a newly approved 10-year tax deal with the city on the Firehouse Lofts will go straight back to future tenants.

“One hundred percent of the tax savings will be used to lower the rents into a feasible range for Tyler Street,” said Dave Carver, a CT Management Group managing partner. “Dollar for dollar.”

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CT Management Group Managing Partner Dave Carver said that the benefits of a 10-year tax agreement with the city for the property of the former Morningside firehouse will be returned to future tenants of the building in the form of lower rents.

The City Council recently approved a 10-year tax increment exemption for the former Morningside firehouse at 231 Tyler St. Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell voted against the deal, which is anticipated to save the developer about $55,000 over the life of the deal. The vote was 7-2.

The tax exemption allows the developer to continue paying at the current tax rate — about $4,600 — for the first two years of ownership as it redevelops the building. Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer told the council this marks the first time the city has collected taxes on the property.

Morandi challenged the idea that the four two-bedroom apartments CT Management plans to construct in the building and rent at $1,795 a month and $1,895 a month will be easy to fill.

“I think it’s going to be challenging to find tenants that can afford these rents,” Morandi said. “We need all kinds of housing, not just market-rate.”

The apartments would sit in the heart of the Morningside neighborhood. In 2019, the average household income in that portion of the neighborhood was $49,107, according to the American Community Survey.

An affordable rent — that is, no more than 30 percent of the household income — for the average household in that neighborhood would be about $1,350 a month.

Carver told councilors at a Community and Economic Development subcommittee meeting last week that the cost of the units without the tax deal likely would have been about $2,035 and $2,135.

Interior of firehouse

In a presentation to the Community and Economic Development subcommittee Sept. 21, developer Dave Carver shared images of decay and disrepair from inside the former Morningside firehouse.

“These are not cheap projects for what has to go into them,” Councilor-At-Large Peter White said Tuesday night. “That is why they have to demand higher rents.”

The project is estimated to cost about $1.25 million. This year, CT Management Group received a $100,000 Community Preservation Act grant to cover a portion of the costs.

Community Preservation Act funding sought to redevelop former Tyler Street firehouse into market-rate housing

Ruffer said the building, which dates to 1906, is so dilapidated that it’s almost “inappropriate to call it a building at this point.”

“It’s more appropriate to call it four walls with a caved-in roof, mold and a deteriorated interior that cannot be salvaged,” Ruffer said.

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Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer tells the City Council that a deal with CT Management Group represents a last-ditch effort to save the former Morningside firehouse.

CT Management reportedly already has begun work to shore up a leaky roof, but Carver said during the subcommittee meeting that there is no hope for salvaging a back portion of the building. A small back section will be demolished to make way for parking for future tenants at the back of the property.

City officials say that the tax incentive is part what they consider the last chance to sell the former firehouse. The city has been trying to attract a buyer for the property since 2013.

Ruffer previously has said that if the historic structure hadn’t been sold to CT Management, the city was preparing to demolish it.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or

413- 496-6149.

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