February 18 2015 0Comment

PEDA foresees business park growth in 2016

By Joe Durwin
iBerkshires Correspondent
February 18, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Bridge completion, breaking ground on BIC, three current tenant prospects and a new outreach campaign are among the pieces in play for the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority this year as it continues the ongoing slog to build up the William Stanley Business Park.

Identities of the three prospects that have emerged in recent months are being kept private for now, but discussions with them are ongoing, according to PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston.

“I’m not at liberty to publicize at this time, but that’s all good news,” said Thurston, who said the mayor and other new incoming public officials have been briefed on these leads.

Currently the park has two tenants leasing parcels; Eversource, whose solar array field rings the north side of Silver Lake, and Mountain One Financial Partners, which opened a new administrative center there in 2012. At least two other prospective tenants have seriously eyed the former General Electric lots for development in recent years — a regional headquarters for Action Ambulance and a big box retail operation by Waterstone Retail Development.

A third tenant will emerge with the eventual completion of the Berkshire Innovation Center, which is anticipated to move forward within the next several months despite short about $600,000 from the estimated cost needed for the construction of the center.

“There was a gap between what was set up a couple of years ago without any designs in mind,” explained board member Douglas Crane. “By the time it went out to bid, the construction industry had warmed a bit, and things cost more.”

“We’ve been diligently working with their engineers to redefine and analyze the bids and building design so that they can get a grip on the actual gap, funding wise, and make the ask,” Thurston told the board, who said he felt “confident” that such funds will be forthcoming from the Mass. Life Sciences Center.

Thurston said he anticipates a ground breaking for the Berkshire Innovation Center “sometime in the early second quarter.”

Even without a facility in place, the BIC is already active as an entity, working on a variety of programs that included sponsorship of last year’s Berkshire Robotics Challenge, an event which is the subject of one of the new videos produced as part of the BIC and PEDA’s outreach campaign to enterprises that may be lured to the park by opportunities stemming from the new center.

PEDA board Chairman Mick Callahan said the outreach program will “encompass stakeholders, site professionals, bankers, realtors, prospects, in a very targeted fashion.”

Board member Christina Barrett said there are more videos being developed that will highlight other aspects of the business park, along with continued social media and other advertising efforts.

“We’re spending as much time as possible on this,” added Thurston. “We’ll continue to grow that, to outreach to various key segments, or to try and leverage the Innovation Center and other activities that are going on in the market in support of new development and prospects for the business park.”

Another positive that PEDA hopes to highlight in publicity this year will be the completion of the Woodlawn Avenue bridge this spring. The opening of this bridge will mark the first time this route has been open to any traffic in ten years. The previous bridge was closed in 2006, and demolished in 2012. Once slated to be done by the summer of 2013, the bridge project has been plagued with a series of delays over the years.

With mild winter weather this year, work has proceeded swiftly throughout the season, and PEDA is looking to celebrate the finished bridge on a date to be determined this spring.