For Immediate Release
Date: June 26, 2013
Contacts:
Angus McQuilken, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
617-921-7749 or [email protected]
Corydon Thurston, Pittsfield Economic Development Authority
413-494-7332, Cell: 413-770-7922 or [email protected]

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced today the approval of a $55,000 capital planning grant to support a research project at the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield. The business park is the site of a proposed Berkshire Life Sciences Center, a 20,000-square-foot facility on former General Electric (GE) property that is managed by the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA).

The project the grant will fund is a formal study of opportunities to catalyze life-sciences-related economic development in Western Massachusetts. The study will be conducted by New England Expansion Strategies, a third party selected through an RFP process.
The MLSC is the agency charged with implementing the state’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, proposed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2007 and approved by the Legislature in 2008. $6.5 million in capital funding was designated in the legislation for a project in the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield.

“As we pursue our mission of accelerating growth in Massachusetts, we are very focused on making investments across the entire Commonwealth that promote life sciences-driven economic development,” said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the MLSC. “The city of Pittsfield is an important partner in that effort, and we are pleased to award this funding to support their forward-looking plans for life sciences growth in the region.”

“This grant will enable Pittsfield to examine the most effective life-sciences-related potential at the William Stanley Business Park by leveraging the inherent strengths and relationships in the Berkshire region of Western Massachusetts,” said Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi. “I am optimistic that the planning for a life sciences business presence in Pittsfield will offer enhanced opportunity for employment and will be the first step in making the Berkshires a meaningful part of the dynamic Massachusetts life sciences industry.”

“This is one of the many steps in the process,” said PEDA’s Executive Director, Corydon Thurston. “It will help the City and PEDA validate its vision for the facility and lead to the creation of a sustainable business model for its operation. We have been diligently pursuing this effort for more than a year now under the guidance of the MSLC, and we are very pleased that the Board of the MLSC has recognized our progress, and I thank them for this funding.”

Thurston credited his Board, and foundation partners, Nuclea Biotechnologies and Berkshire Community College, for playing a major role in developing the vision and local collaborations that resulted in this initial MLSC funding. “We truly appreciate the care and level of review given all funding requests to the MLSC, and I think their track record speaks for itself,” continued Thurston. “With that enviable record, I take comfort that this planning grant is an indicator that we are, in fact, on the right track for Pittsfield, and I am very excited about the prospect for expanding the Life Sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts into the Berkshires”.

“I am very excited that New England Expansion Strategies was selected to conduct the feasibility study for the Berkshire Life Sciences Center,” said planning consultant Rod Jane. “This project can be an extremely important catalyst for economic development in the region. As former Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, I had the opportunity to assist Nuclea Biotechnologies with their successful startup in Pittsfield. During that process I found the city officials and local businesses from Pittsfield to be exceptionally helpful, proactive and responsive, which was instrumental in helping the project succeed. I look forward to working with the City of Pittsfield and PEDA to help make the Berkshire Life Sciences Center a success.”

“I am excited at the opportunity this grant represents,” said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield). “This investment is the first step in building the Berkshire Life Sciences Center and deepening the ongoing regional collaboration in science and technology here in Berkshire County. From the MCLA Center for Science & Innovation to countless other steps, we are working hard to capture the jobs and opportunity presented by the life sciences. These resources will help us to do just that.”

“I am so pleased once again with the results of the state’s strong partnership with local business and government leaders, which will continue to foster innovation and economic growth here in the Berkshires,” said State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield). “We are confident that life sciences will become an important local industry that will grow opportunities for high-paying STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] jobs in the region.”

For more information on this project, visit williamstanleybp.com or www.PittsfieldEDA.org

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a 10-year, $1-billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The MLSC’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties among sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.

January 25, 2013
Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD — A Needham-based developer has made a second pitch to put a retail center in the William Stanley Business Park, a $30 million complex that would be slightly bigger than what had been proposed originally.

Waterstone Retail Development has proposed the construction of a 200,000-square-foot building occupied by a single tenant that it says would bring 200 mostly full-time jobs to Pittsfield, create 350 construction positions over a two-year period, and bring $300,000 in tax revenue to the city.

The complex would be located on the same area that Waterstone proposed the first time: A 16-acre parcel commonly referred to as “the teens.” The parcel borders Woodlawn Avenue and Tyler Street. Waterstone has developed 37 shopping centers across the country.
It would cost $10 million — a third of the project’s total price tag — just to prepare the area for a retail complex, said Doug Richardson, Waterstone’s vice president of development. Numerous concrete foundations and slabs, remnants of General Electric Co.’s factories, would have to be removed. The land would be capped to prevent remaining underground contaminants from interfering with the above ground construction.

Waterstone’s first proposal, announced in December 2011, called for the creation of a 170,000-square-foot multi-tenant shopping center at the Stanley Business Park that could bring 150 jobs to the city.
At the time the first proposal was announced, Waterstone had already signed a letter of intent with the city and was negotiating a lease with the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, the quasi-public agency charged with the 52-acre business park’s development. The business park is on land once occupied by GE factories.

On Thursday, Waterstone Principal Neal Shalom said that the original letter of intent expired “quite a while ago.” He said Waterstone has been working with local people since that agreement ended, but that the company currently has no plans filed with the city.

“We’re working in good faith with PEDA and the city,” said Waterstone Principal Anton Melchionda.

If the proposal does go forward, the next step would be for Waterstone to file plans with the Community Development Board, said PEDA’s Executive Director Cory Thurston.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, who is also a PEDA Board member, has said he would prefer the development of the Stanley Business Park to be limited to industrial concerns. He invited Waterstone to discuss its revamped proposal with PEDA because only one of the current’s board 11 members was also on the board in December 2011.

“I am still committed personally to a manufacturing operation over there,” Bianchi said following Waterstone’s presentation. “But I had heard some numbers about what it might take to get the land to be developed.

“That’s what I wanted the board to hear as well,” Bianchi said, referring to the $10 million figure. “I was kind of interested in what they had to say in regards to that.”

Shalom said Waterstone’s first proposal, which was announced to great fanfare, fell through when the proposed anchor tenant halted its national expansion plans due to the economy. After conducting extensive research on the amount of available industrial land in certain areas of the Berkshires this time around, Shalom said Waterstone has concluded that the teens parcel is best suited for retail.
“We’d be happy to do manufacturing or warehousing, we actually do more of that than we do retail,” said Shalom. “But we’ve determined the highest and best use, in our opinion, is a retail development on the site.

“People are interested in seeing manufacturing and that would be great here,” he continued. “But there’s not a lot of manufacturing companies locating in this part of the country, and there’s a lot of competing empty buildings available that have a low cost of entry.”
Richardson said there are 10 sites in Pittsfield alone that would be “quicker and cheaper” for industrial firms to develop than the teens parcel.

The project would also include the construction of a new parking area, new signal and turn lights at the intersection of Dalton Avenue and Tyler Street, new sidewalks and walkways on both sides of the roadways, two new public transit stops, and the possibility of extensive landscaping improvements.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski: [email protected], or (413) 496-6224. On Twitter: @tonydobrow

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.”