City eyes redevelopment of old Hess station on Tyler Street

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PITTSFIELD — An unsightly former Hess station built in the 1960s could soon make way for something new.

Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer says the city plans to work with MassDevelopment, the state's development arm, to acquire the privately owned property and redevelop it.

The city has tried in vain for years, she said, to address the blighted property at 250 Tyler St., owned by Hess Retail Stores. Now, MassDevelopment has had some success in working with the corporation on a possible sale.

MassDevelopment began working with the city in 2016 to improve the Tyler Street corridor under the agency's Transformative Development Initiative. The Hess project is part of that work.

Ruffer said the plan would be for MassDevelopment to acquire the property and give it to the city to redevelop. Mayor Linda Tyer's capital budget for the coming fiscal year includes $200,000 to demolish structures on the site and for plantings along the property.

"It has been a blighted property for too long in this neighborhood," Ruffer said. "And it's highly visible."

Before MassDevelopment got involved, Ruffer said the city wasn't able to capture Hess' interest in improving or selling the property.

"But MassDevelopment has been able to engage with the property owner about a potential sale," she said.

Attempts to reach Hess for this story were unsuccessful. A spokesperson for MassDevelopment declined to comment on the status of its negotiations for the property.

"We are unable to comment at this time on any specifics related to the property at 250 Tyler Street," said Kelsey Schiller, deputy director of communications for the agency, in an email to The Eagle.

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If the sale goes through, Ruffer said the plan is to immediately get to work on the property.

"We feel that it's very important for the neighborhood," she said.

She said the plan is to turn it into green space at least temporarily and then engage with residents about their hopes for the property. "We'll go through a community process," she said.

Hess already began some improvements at the property, she said.

Permitting coordinator Nate Joyner said four underground storage tanks have been removed from the site since 2013 and there are no environmental issues there. He said environmental readings show no evidence of any chemical releases on the property.

Most councilors were happy to hear during their meeting last week that the city might soon address the long-blighted property.

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi called it an eyesore that has dragged down the neighborhood for too long.

"This is one of the happiest pieces of news I saw in the entire budget," Councilor at Large Pete White said. "I look forward to seeing that gone."

Councilor at Large Earl Persip said it's a shame that Morningside Community School students have the deteriorating gas station as their view from the school's entrance.

"If it was in front of any other school it would have been down a long time ago," he said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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