© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State Grant Will Allow Pittsfield To Begin Redeveloping Vacant Lot On Former GE Campus

An open lot sits beneath a pair of industrial buildings past a road under a blue sky with puffy white clouds.
Josh Landes
A view of the former General Electric campus in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts is receiving almost $900,000 in funding from the state’s MassDevelopment Site Readiness Grant Program to redevelop a vacant industrial site.

Governor Charlie Baker announced a disbursement of over $3 million from the program in a virtual press conference Tuesday morning.

“This program, which we proposed in in our economic development bill back in 2015, I think, and was ultimately approved and enacted and funded by the legislature in 2016 is a pretty important part of how we help communities reimagine properties," said Baker. "And while that's certainly an economic development issue, it's also an environmental issue. The more opportunities we have to put existing property back to work, it's less property that we need to greenspace into something else.”

Of the 10 grants awarded, Pittsfield got the largest individual allocation toward redeveloping part of the former General Electric campus on East Street.

“Site 9 will receive $880,000 and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority will use site readiness funds to complete the design, environmental permitting, and bid-ready documents for the construction of an internal site roadway, utilities and storm water facilities for this 16.5 acre site," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. "The funds will be used for engineering and design services as well as crushing existing pavement on the site, which is expected to accommodate 202,000 square feet of industrial uses and open space.”

While remnants of GE’s long history on the property remain in the form of vast, crumbling concrete slabs and vacant buildings, the site is now known as the William Stanley Business Park. It’s the home to the Berkshire Innovation Center as well as the headquarters of MountainOne Insurance.

In a subsequent virtual press conference, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer said the grant will allow the city to reestablish the former GE campus as a reemerging economic hub. She used a map of Site 9 to detail Pittsfield’s plans for its redevelopment.

“We’ve managed to preserve some green space," said Tyer. "We are envisioning the possibility of manufacturing, industry, warehousing. Up in the upper portion of the parcel near to the Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue intersection, you'll see that we've envisioned the possibility for retail and office space. So this is the vision for the full build-out. And of course, we are hoping to engage with a number of business leaders who imagine themselves being successful here at the William Stanley Business Park.”

She tied the development into other ongoing efforts in the Morningside neighborhood supported by state dollars.

“We're already well underway with Tyler Street streetscape and roundabout project," said the mayor. "We recently received a $3 million grant from MassWorks to accomplish that work.”

Mark Aragoni of SLR Consulting took part in the planning study to redevelop Site 9.

“This entire site needs to have about, for simple terms, needs to have a 4-foot cover of earthen material placed over the top of it," he said. "So we'd like to do that 4 feet of earthen cap that will sit with grass on top of it for as long as it takes, hopefully, a short amount of time until private investment occurs on the site. So this first initial phase of construction is to do work that will make the site more attractive and easier to develop.”

Roughly half of the grant will go toward cracking and crushing the concrete slabs on the site, while the rest will go to design, permitting and engineering.

The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, which manages development of the 52 acre business park, has also received a $264,000 grant from the state specifically for brownfield remediation efforts.

The city says it hopes to begin the multi-year project this summer.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
Related Content