Pittsfield receives grant to develop William Stanley Park parcel

July 4, 2017
Tony Dobrowolski, [email protected]
Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD The city of Pittsfield has received $75,000 from a program associated with MassDevelopment to conduct further testing on a parcel at the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires for a possible tenant.

The state funding from the Site Readiness Fund will pay for extensive engineering and structural examination of the large concrete foundation at what is commonly known as the 40s complex, a 7-acre parcel located across Kellogg Street from the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority’s administration building. It is named after the 40s, the numbers of three buildings that were located on that site when the property belonged to General Electric.

A plastics manufacturer from Orlando, Fla., with ties to the Berkshires has expressed interest in building a facility that could bring 100 manufacturing jobs to Pittsfield on that parcel, which now houses building lots 7 and 8 at the Stanley Business Park. Work on the site may begin as early as next week, said PEDA Executive Director Corey Thurston.

The foundation was left behind when GE demolished those structures before turning the land over to PEDA, which is charged with the 52-acre business park’s development, in 2011. In some areas of the business park, such as the teens parcel where Walmart has expressed an interest in building a Supercenter, the concrete foundations that GE left behind are too ragged to build upon. But the foundation left behind in the 40s is not.

“We’re going to use the money to further explore the actual engineering details of the slab from a structural standpoint,” Thurston said. “We’re going to dig deeper into the slab, take a ground-penetrating radar device to look for where there might be voids and structures underneath the concrete so we can do a better analysis of what areas are weaker than others to make sure that if a building is constructed there we can stay away from a weak spot.”

Buildings 42 and 43, constructed in 1912 and 1913, respectively, were massive multi-story structures that formed a U shape, and at one point made up one of the largest industrial spaces in Western Massachusetts. The single-story building 44 was built in 1940, sandwiched between the two sides of the U that was created by the four-story building 42 and five-story building 43.

GE turned the 40s parcel over to PEDA in February 2011, but Thurston said the quasi-public agency hasn’t done any major work in that area since then.

“GE had to do a lot of testing on that slab for when the EPA signed off on the final completion report,” Thurston said, referring to environmental and geological assessments of the entire park that GE was required to complete, and the Environmental Protection Agency required to approve, before the land could be turned over to PEDA. “We’re going to add to those tests, because we want to know the specific points to know. Since the property has been deeded to PEDA we’ve done nothing but maintain it.”

The strength of the stormwater and sewer lines on the parcel also will be tested. Further environmental testing of the 40s parcel is not included in the parameters of the site readiness grant, Thurston said. But because further test borings of the land are allowed, Thurston said some of those samples will be probably be tested for possible chemical contamination.

“We’ll probably take advantage of the drill rigs” that will be used for boring, Thurston said.

The city of Pittsfield is one of 14 recipients across the state to received funding in the inaugural round of the Site Readiness Fund program, which is administered by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker. A total of $1.8 million in funding awarded to 11 communities through 14 grants during in the inaugural round of funding.

The program enacted with the administration’s 2016 Economic Development Bill, authorizes $15 million to provide vital resources to municipalities, developers, and community development corporations to increase the inventory of development-ready sites across the state.

“The city of Pittsfield is thrilled to receive this grant that will help to advance economic development pursuits at the William Stanley Business Park,” Mayor Linda M. Tyer said in a statement. “Economic development is at the forefront of the city’s priorities and collaboration such as that between the city and PEDA are critical to this work.”

The city and PEDA applied jointly for the funding earlier this year. PEDA’s board voted to give Thurston authorization to accept the grant on the board’s behalf at its June 21 meeting.

Reach Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.