January 17, 2013
Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle

Executive Director Cory Thurston said PEDA is “focused” on obtaining a portion of that state earmark — enough to plan the project — from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center by next month, so that the quasi-public agency could eventually convince the state to release the entire amount.

In 2008, the Legislature approved the funding for the building at the Stanley Business Park, but for a variety of reasons, PEDA has never received any of the money.

At PEDA’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, Thurston said receiving the entire $6.5 million allocation is a “step-by-step” process that has no formal application process. But obtaining planning funds would enable PEDA to lay the groundwork for obtaining the entire earmark, and let the MLSC know that “this project is real,” he said.

“I don’t believe that by any stretch of the imagination that we’re ready for the total pitch,” Thurston said. “You have to take baby steps to get to the ultimate goal.”

PEDA is in charge of developing the 52-acre Stanley Business Park located on reclaimed GE factory land between East and Kellogg streets. By establishing a building for young businesses in the life sciences industry to grow, PEDA could position the business park to tie into the life sciences industry economy locally and statewide.

Last March, Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, a PEDA board member, called on the board to submit a “competitive-type proposal” with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and move the project forward. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is implementing the state’s 10-year, $1 billion economic development plan to build the public and private in life sciences research and development.

Bianchi said he has been putting together a life sciences task force to form synergies with Berkshire County firms and institutions involved in the life sciences. As examples, Bianchi cited Berkshire Health Systems, which is co-sponsoring the construction of a $30 million cancer center in Pittsfield; the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, which plans to open its $30 million Center for Science and Innovation in the fall; and a local engineering firm that manufactures implants for the medical industry.

In November, Nuclea Biotechnologies of Pittsfield formed a partnership with PEDA to establish a bioinformatics and imaging center inside the organization’s administration building on Kellogg Street.

“We want to show [the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center] that we’ve done things, and have laid a good foundation,” Bianchi said.
Board members also discussed trying to obtain a portion of the $308,000 in capital funding that the MLSC set aside in October to conduct a formal study of life sciences related economic development in Western Massachusetts at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Bianchi also suggested that PEDA should try to establish links with agricultural-type functions at UMass-Amherst, similar to the master’s degree program in historic preservation that the state university has established at Hancock Shaker Village.

Board members also expressed an interest in becoming involved in GlobalFoundries plan to build a new research and development facility across the state line in Malta, N.Y. that is expected to create 1,000 jobs.

“But it has to start with a commitment for the life sciences project,” said George Whaling. “We have to build the building, then we can start to market to those folks.”

Acting Chairman Mick Callahan said PEDA’s interest in GlobalFoundries’ operations would probably be focused on companies that supply materials to the semiconductor manufacturer.
“The vendor network to those companies is probably our best bet,” he said.

October 25, 2012
Tony Dobrowski, Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD– The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority will hold a public design hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 28 to solicit input on the reconstruction and design of the new CSX Railroad bridge on Woodlawn Avenue.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in room 203 at City Hall. Plans for the new span will also be unveiled at the public hearing, according to PEDA’s Executive Director Cory Thurston.

PEDA is the quasi-public agency charged with the development of the 52-acre William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires.

The public hearing will provide the public with the opportunity to become “fully acquainted” with the bridge replacement project, according to the public notice. All views and comments made at the hearing will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible.

The old span was removed this summer. The new bridge is being constructed by the state Department of Transportation, and the project has reached the 25 percent design phase, which requires public comment, Thurston said.

PEDA hopes to have the new span completed by 2014. The entire project is expected to cost around $4 million when sidewalks and paving for the new span are finished.

The project is being funded by the state. As currently proposed, the project includes replacing the existing three-span bridge structure with a new single span bridge comprised of welded plate girders and new abutments that will be constructed in front of the original bridge abutments.

The new span will include two 12-foot travel lanes, four foot shoulders to accommodate bi cycle lanes, and 5.5 foot sidewalks on either side of the road.

The DOT is currently fixing 31 CSX Railroad bridges, including six in Western Massachusetts, so that the rail company can run double stack freight cars from its base in Selkirk, N.Y. to Worcester.

The center span of the former Woodlawn Avenue bridge was only about 15 inches lower than the height required for CSX’s new freight cars. The original plans called for just the center span to be replaced, but were amended to include the entire bridge.

PEDA’s board voted to take down the former bridge in July, despite having received only verbal assurances from the DOT that the span would be replaced.

But in August, the state legislature approved a supplemental transportation bond bill that provides $2 million in state funding towards the replacement of the bridge.

When fully open, Woodlawn Avenue provides north-south access through the 52-acre business park between Tyler and East streets, which PEDA members have said is crucial to attracting additional clients to the parcel. The section of Woodlawn between Kellogg and East streets that includes the bridge has been closed for six years.

Tony Dobrowski, Berkshire Eagle

Following several years of hoping and trying, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority has finally become involved in a project that is related to the state’s life sciences industry. This new project is also the start of something bigger.

PEDA’s board on Wednesday approved two leases that will allow the quasi-public agency to rent space in its 3,200-square-foot building on Kellogg Street to Nuclea Biotechnologies Inc. for a computer cluster that analyzes genetic material. The new space will be known as the Nuclea Bioinformatic and Imaging Center.

Moving the computer cluster to PEDA’s administration building from Nuclea’s facility on South Street is actually the first phase of a larger project, said company President and CEO Patrick J. Muraca. He declined to provide additional details, but said more information will be available after the computer cluster has been installed.

“We’re hoping by the first week in November,” Muraca said.
PEDA, the quasi-public agency charged with developing the 52-acre William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires, has been seeking a toehold in the life sciences industry since 2008, when the Legislature approved a $6.5 million earmark toward the construction of an incubator building for small startup life sciences companies in the business park.

For a variety of reasons, PEDA has never received that funding, but the agency is currently developing a proposal to secure the funds from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

In September, PEDA’s Executive Director Cory Thurston described the board’s decision to lease space to Nuclea as a way to “kick off this opportunity.”

“This is the beginning of the life sciences in Pittsfield,” said PEDA’s acting chairman Mick Callahan on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to sublease part of its administration building to Nuclea for two years, and amend its current lease with General Electric so the project will move forward. Only seven of the board’s 11 members were in attendance.

Due to its complicated relationship with GE, PEDA is allowed to sublease part of its 46-year-old administration building to another entity, but only with GE’s approval. PEDA is charged with developing the 52-acre William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires. But unlike the park itself, the agency’s administration building is located on a 3.1-acre parcel that GE still owns.

GE and PEDA originally had a five-year lease on the Kellogg Street property that went to a month-to-month basis after the original term expired. The amendment extends the lease for three years. The corporate giant has already approved its part of the agreement.
“GE didn’t want to rewrite the lease,” Thurston said, “so the easiest way to do it was with an amendment.”

Nuclea, which develops and commercializes diagnostic tests for colon, breast, leukemia, lung and prostate cancer, plans to move all of its computer servers that store bioinformatic clusters to Kellogg Street. The servers will be located on 1,000 square feet of space that Nuclea will lease from PEDA on the east side of its administration building.
Bioinformatics is a scientific discipline that involves the analysis of DNA and protein sequences from computer analysis of biological data, according to two scientific websites.

“We’re actually upgrading the cluster to handle about three times [more information] at the site than we do now,” Muraca said.
Muraca said Nuclea decided to move the computer cluster to PEDA property because the company didn’t have enough space.

“We don’t have the room really,” Muraca said. “One of the things that we’re going to be talking about is an upgrade through the whole company itself.”

Innovative Industrial Site Exemplifies Public-Private Partnerships and Green Builds

Named for one of the country’s most prolific inventors, the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield, Mass. is open for business, and aims to continue the legacy of innovation left by its namesake. This milestone was celebrated this week with the dedication of a new building occupied by MountainOne Financial Services.
The park, which overlooks the City of Pittsfield and the Berkshire Mountains, offers several opportunities to a wide range of businesses including those in the life sciences, information technology, finance, research and development, and light industrial sectors. A $6.5 million earmark, part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Life Sciences Bond Bill, has been authorized to construct a 20,000-square-foot multitenant facility. The William Stanley Business Park is now seeking expressions of interest from biotech and medical device businesses interested in start-up or expansion space.
“I feel confident in our ability to demonstrate a level of interest that will be high enough to encourage the release of the earmark,” said Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi. “I see a tremendous opportunity for Pittsfield to become the western anchor of the state’s Life Sciences industry.”
Spread across 52 acres in the heart of Pittsfield, the William Stanley Business Park has been designated an Economic Opportunity Area (EOA) by the Commonwealth and, as such, potential tenants may qualify for 5% investment tax credits. Other local and state tax incentives based on new jobs created and maintained may also be available.
The project exemplifies effective reuse of a former Brownfield and has seen a flurry of activity to reach this goal in the last year, including the final land transfer from GE to PEDA. In addition, MountainOne Financial recently completed construction of a LEED-certifiable office building at the park in less than 11 months, after receiving its certificate of occupancy in April of this year.
MountainOne’s decision to design their new building sustainably is in keeping with the overall mission of the William Stanley Business Park to focus on innovative, energy-saving strategies and to preserve as much of the natural features of the area as possible. The first tenant, award-winning Silver Lake Solar Project, a 1.8-megawatt solar-panel array owned and operated by Western Mass Electric Company, greets visitors upon arrival. Roadways, lighting, and pedestrian walkways have been added, along with more than 440 indigenous trees planted across the park.

Corydon Thurston serves as executive director the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA), a quasi-public entity formed to oversee rehabilitation and subsequent reuse of the site. He said the William Stanley Business Park represents the culmination of an innovative public and private partnership between the City of Pittsfield, the site’s former owner, General Electric (GE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and other government entities.
“We believe this is a model for cooperative remediation and redevelopment efforts across the country,” said Thurston, adding that many properties contaminated by industrial use have been designated Federal Superfund sites and many of these remain abandoned and unproductive. The unique public-private partnership at the William Stanley Business Park advanced the remediation effort and accelerated its effective reuse. PEDA can now boast two multi-million-dollar projects that have added to the tax rolls and added to the jobs here in the City of Pittsfield.

“If not for this arrangement, and the ongoing cooperation of the EPA and DEP the site could be awaiting remediation still today,” said Thurston. “While this property once had more issues than opportunities, issues have been addressed, and that is the result of every involved party’s willingness to work toward a solution.”