PEDA moves forward with William Stanley Business Park’s Site 9 redevelopment project: A contractor is now in place

By Tony Dobrowolski,
Berkshire Eagle
(c) 2023 The Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD — A contractor is finally on board to oversee the $10.8 million renovation of the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshire’s largest building lot.

The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority’s board of directors on Friday unanimously approved awarding the construction contract to William J. Keller & Sons Construction Corporation of Castleton, N.Y. PEDA is the quasi-public agency charged with the 52-acre business park’s development.

The board has spent over a year finding funding and making plans for the four-phase redevelopment of that parcel to take place. The board had hoped work on this site could begin this year, but the permitting and design process took longer than expected and prevented the project from going out to bid.

Keller, which has done projects at Bousquet Mountain Ski Area, Clark Art Institute and Williams College, will begin redeveloping the 16.5-acre parcel known as Building Site 9 on Jan. 15, according to PEDA’s Executive Director Michael Coakley.

The parcel is expected to be “ready for development” by Oct. 4, Coakley said.

The cracking and crushing of the jumble of concrete building foundations that the General Electric Co. left on the site when they turned the parcel over to PEDA in 2012 will be done first.

“As long as there’s not two feet of snow they should be able to work through the winter,” Coakley said.

Coakley said 14 construction firms expressed interest in the project when it went out to bid. But only two, Keller and the Maxymillian construction of Pittsfield, actually submitted bids. Keller was the low bidder at $9.8 million, which is $1.4 million less than what Maxymillian offered.

When asked by a board member why only two of the 14 interested parties actually submitted bids, Coakley said, “I think it’s a very complicated job and working with brownfields you have to have certain certifications.”

The construction company’s president, John D. Keller Jr., did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

All eight references that the board received about Keller contained “totally positive comments,” Coakley said. “We’re comfortable with them.”

Keller is a union shop, but the company plans to hire local workers and outsource work to Berkshire contractors, Coakley and board members said.

Board member and retired laborer’s union representative Michael Filpi said he worked with Keller on that company’s project at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

“They were very professional,” Filpi said. “They do the right thing, and get the job done on time. We never had any issues. They do quality work.”

The hardest part of the job may come after the concrete foundations have been broken up.

“One of the things that’s unknown is what’s underneath it,” Coakley said, referring to the concrete. “Those foundations were poured over 100 years ago. They’re not exactly sure what they’ll find there.”

To prepare for that task, Keller has looked at engineering documents developed in the era when those foundations were poured to get an idea of what might be underneath them, said board chair Michael Matthews.

“But you never know,” he said.

In other business, the board also announced that it is planning to look for a commercial real estate broker to find clients for the site after it is developed. The task will be handled by Coakley and Matthews, whom the board had earlier given permission to perform the contractor negotiations.

Coakley and Matthews said they are interested in speaking to a broker located in Springfield that they declined to name who has previously brought clients to the Downing Industrial Park in Pittsfield.