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New Housing Development At Former Northampton State Hospital Site

Massachusetts state and local officials  in Northampton,Tuesday marked more progress in  a decades  long effort to  transform a former state hospital campus into a sustainable urban neighborhood..WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

        With the addition of 24 new homes that will be built starting this spring, the project known as Village Hill, will be roughly two thirds complete according to officials with the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, the quasi public authority that is overseeing the development effort. The master planned community combines residential, commercial and light-industrial development on more than 126 acres.  

        MassDevelopment President and CEO, Marty Jones says that over the last decade about $20 million has gone into demolishing the former hospital buildings, putting in infrastructure and prepping for contractors. 

        Roughly half of the 300 housing units planned have been built. There is a mix of single family homes and apartment houses, and all are currently occupied according to Beth Murphy the project manager for MassDevelopement Two businesses, a custom furniture maker and a defense contractor that specializes in electrical-optical systems are now  headquartered at Village Hill.

        The Northampton State Hospital closed in the early 1990s as the state pursued a deinstitutionalization policy for the mentally ill. Efforts to reuse or redevelopment the campus, high on a hill overlooking downtown, spanned three mayoral administrations, according to the current mayor, David Narkewicz.  

        Most of the land that surrounded the hospital, a total of some 500 acres was designated by the city for preservation.
        Developer Kent Pecoy, who will build  the 24 new homes at Village Hill, said he hopes it marks a turnaround for the construction industry.

        The new homes will vary in styles and sizes from one bedroom bungalows to two story four bedroom houses described as workforce affordable.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.