$3.9 million from state to fund affordable housing upgrade, construction in Berkshires


A regional housing agency has received nearly $3.9 million in state funding toward the purchase - and eventual upgrade - of an affordable housing complex in Pittsfield and the construction of senior housing in Wlliamstown.

Berkshire Housing Development Corp. has secured a $3.6 million loan from the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. to buy the Dalton Apartments on April Lane in the city.

Once the funds are in hand, BHDC plans a $5 million upgrade of the 44-year-old, 100-unit housing complex, according to Executive Director Elton Ogden.

"In partnership with Rees-Larkin, we plan significant capital investment," Ogden said. Rees-Larkin was the Boston development firm that created the 45-unit Rice Silk Mill Apartments that opened in Pittsfield in September 2012.

Rees-Larkin's principal developer, Jon Rudzinski, looks forward to the joint venture with BHDC, which manages the Rice Silk Mill Apartments.

"I came back to Pittsfield because of the great working relationship with [BHDC] and, personally, I like the fact of having another project in the city," he said. "It's also a win-win situation when you show up with resources for rehab."

The $3.6 million loan is actually a bridge to allow the development team to obtain $6.2 million in federal and state low-income housing tax credits, with the balance of the financing coming from permanent loans.

The 11-building Dalton Apartments complex, currently owned by the Dalton Apartments Limited Partnership of Eastern Massachusetts, was built in 1970 and currently has 15 vacancies, according Ogden. He noted of the 100 apartments, 20 are set aside for tenants who qualify for state housing subsidies known as Section 8. BHDC plans to seek permission to increase the number of Section 8 units among the 100 apartments.

The remaining $305,500 from CEDAC is a pre-development loan for the design of a 40-unit senior housing project on land being donated by Williams College, near the Williamstown Elementary School.

Highland Woods is primarily aimed to help residents being forced to leave the Spruces Mobile Home Park, which was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.

"This brings us one step closer for people who haven't left the park or others who want to return to Williamstown," said Catherine Yamamoto, chairwoman of the local Affordable Housing Committee.

Yamamoto noted the remaining 90 tenants have until early 2016 to vacate the complex, which catered to people 55 and older. In all, 300 residents occupied Spruces prior to Irene, with some already moved into housing elsewhere in town or outside the community.

BHDC's development of Highland Woods is being assisted by a pair of nonprofits: Williamstown Elder Housing Corp. and Higher Ground Inc. Ogden says the planning has been well underway since October - and if construction money is secured this spring - work can begin this summer.

To reach Dick Lindsay:


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