Historic house lot beckons affordable neighbor in Dalton

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DALTON — Yet more change is afoot at a historic Gulf Road corner, where a Dalton neighborhood borders miles of forest.

When the town took ownership of the last remaining dwelling of Dalton's earliest African American residents, the lot came with another home: a modest structure at 16 Gulf Road.

After years of work to restore the Fitch-Hoose House property as a cultural resource for all, Dalton is moving to reap a public benefit from the forlorn and empty building next door.

Proposals are being taken from nonprofits to rehabilitate or replace the small house and sell it to a low- or moderate-income owner.

"It would be put to good use as affordable housing in town," said Town Manager Kenneth E. Walto.

At town meeting last year, residents agreed to free up use of the property for affordable housing, hoping to entice a developer's interest.

Habitat for Humanity has picked up a bidder's packet and is expected to consider submitting a proposal, according to Walto.

The building sits in the southwest corner of a 12,923-square-foot lot, beneath a line of towering shade trees and missing one digit of its street number. Though the little house says "6," the address is really "16."

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The bid packet makes clear the town's mission is to add to its stock of affordable housing — in this case with one single-family home.

"The Proposer shall submit a narrative plan as to how the property ... will be sold to a low or moderate income family, or individual," the packet says.

The town says it will give preference to a developer with experience creating affordable housing. While the bid price will be considered, the request for proposals empowers the Select Board to "make an award to the Proposer whose overall development proposal offers the most beneficial use of the Property ... The Select Board shall not be required to award the sale of the Property to the Proposer offering the highest purchase price."

Dalton wants to see a speedy timetable as well. "Proposals that indicate a rapid development schedule and complete build-out in the shortest time will be given preference," the bid document says.

Proposals are due by 9 a.m. May 24. Bid packets can be picked up from the town manager's office in Town Hall at 462 Main St.

The nearby Fitch-Hoose House, which sits yards away across a yard, opens for seasonal visits June 8.

The rear of the lot, some of it open, will remain undeveloped, Walto said.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.


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