In 1983, Berkshire Housing began providing community development consulting services to small towns in Berkshire County and over the years has secured more than $18 million in grants from the Small Cities and USDA Rural Development programs. It has administered these programs for the towns and served as project manager for the many community development activities they funded. These activities have included the revitalization of town centers in Lee, Sheffield and Otis with new sidewalks, curbs, and lighting, the construction of new sewer systems in Otis and in a trailer park in Lanesborough, the installation new water lines and roads, ADA handicapped accessibility improvements in town halls and schools and the operation of housing rehabilitation programs through which more than 1100 housing units in 26 towns have been upgraded.
Affordable Housing Development
Berkshire Housing has developed 22 rental apartment complexes including the conversion of three former school buildings, two hotels, a former nursing home and a YMCA building. The projects have been designed to meet the needs of a broad range of residents and have involved a variety of federal, state and private financing. Utilizing the HUD 202 program Berkshire Housing has constructed five low-income elderly projects. The Redfield House, a supportive housing project for young parents and Keenan House, a treatment facility and apartments for a local substance abuse agency were funded with state, federal and private funding. Others include the creation of 44 studio apartments on the upper floors of the Pittsfield YMCA for low-income single adults, the development of 70 congregate beds and studio apartments for homeless veterans and in 2016, the completion of a 40 unit, net zero energy, apartment community in Williamstown. The organization has also developed the Pines, a 41 unit condominium where one-third of the units were reserved for first time homebuyers, a subdivision of single-family homes and the purchase of 30 HUD-foreclosed properties that were renovated and sold to first‑time homebuyers. Its largest project was the co-development of Kimball Farms, a 150-unit life care retirement community in Lenox.
Recent Affordable Housing Projects
Highland Woods, Williamstown (2016)
This new 40 unit senior housing community opened in August 2016. The project was fast tracked to address the housing need of residents displaced by Tropical Storm Irene as well as others in the northern Berkshires. One hundred and sixty mobile homes were destroyed by Irene which displaced close to 300 people. Berkshire Housing, assisted by the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, developed the housing on land made available by Williams College. The site is adjacent to Proprietors Field, a 60 unit senior housing community that BHDC developed and manages and the town senior center. Highland Woods enjoyed widespread support from the Town, local residents, DHCD and Williams College. Funding commitments were secured for this $12.2 million project in July 2015 and construction began in October 2014. Funding sources included low income housing tax credits, state housing grants/deferred loans, local Community Preservation funds and FEMA. Mountain One Bank participated as the First Mortgage lender. Highland Woods was one of the first zero net energy designed multifamily affordable housing project to be completed in Massachusetts.
Brattlebrook Village, Pittsfield (2016)
Berkshire Housing partnered with Rees-Larkin Development of Boston to purchase and rehabilitate the former Dalton Apartments, a 40 year old, 100 unit rental community located on the eastern edge of Pittsfield. In June 2014 the partnership purchased the property using an interim Acquisition Loan from CEDAC, a quasi-public non-profit lender. In July 2015 funding commitments from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) were secured for low-income housing tax credits and state subordinate loan funds. Tax exempt financing from the Mass Housing Partnership and Mass Development was used for the construction and permanent financing. The total development cost was $12.5 million.
Current Affordable Housing Projects
Pho-Tech Site/ Cole Avenue Apartments, Williamstown
The Town of Williamstown selected Berkshire Housing to serve as developer of a new affordable housing project on a vacant town owned brownfields site on Cole Avenue. The site which sits on the banks of the Housatonic River formerly housed the Photec Mill. The plan is to construct approximately 46 units of family housing: 23 units in the former mill building and 23 units in newly constructed town houses. Funding will include Low Income Housing Tax Credits, state housing grants or deferred loans and a Community Preservation Grant from the Town. Funding applications will be submitted in February 2018 and construction is projected to begin in early 2019.
Bostwick Gardens Expansion, Great Barrington
Berkshire Housing, the original developer of Bostwick Gardens, is partnering with St. James Community Housing Corporation, the non-profit owner of Bostwick Gardens an existing 29 unit HUD 202 senior housing project, to construct 31 additional units of senior housing. The new housing will be constructed adjacent to the existing building and a new shared entrance will join the two structures. The project received zoning approvals in early 2017 and $200,000 Community Preservation Grant from the town that May. In August 2017 the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development approved an application for $11.2 million in federal and state low income housing tax credits and $1,750,000 in subordinate debt financing. Construction is scheduled to begin in May 2018; leasing would begin 12 months later and the building would open in spring or early summer 2019.
Bentley Apartments, Great Barrington
BHDC plans to partner with the Southern Berkshire CDC Housing Project on this 45 unit affordable rental housing project being planned for the former Log Home factory site on Bridge Street in downtown Great Barrington. The project is fully permitted and has received a commitment of Community Preservation Funds from the Town of Great Barrington and predevelopment funding from CEDAC. Design plans are being completed in preparation for a February 2018 application to DHCD for Low Income Housing Tax Credits and state housing grants or deferred loans. If approved construction would begin in early 2019. The total development cost is estimated to be $16.4 million.