Housing & Community Development
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 of 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 1,100 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 needs of residents displaced by Tropical Storm Irene as well as others in northern Berkshire. 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/ 330 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 which closed in the late 1980’s. Forty-one (41) one, two and three bedroom units of family housing are being constructed: 23 units in the former mill building and 18 units in newly constructed town houses. Project funding sources for this $17 million project include Low Income Housing Tax Credits, state housing deferred loans, an FHLB Affordable Housing Program grant and a local CPA grant. Construction began in late June 2020 and is schedule to be completed in September 2021.
Bentley Apartments, Great Barrington
BHDC partnered with the CDC of South Berkshire to create forty-five (45) apartments for low income families and individuals on land located next to the Housatonic River in downtown Great Barrington. The site, which once had a log home manufacturer on it, has been vacant for over twenty years. Hazardous waste created by the former occupant was remediated by the CDCSB prior to the start of construction on the housing project. Construction of this 45 unit, $16.7 million affordable rental housing development began in January 2020 and lease up of the new housing is almost completed. Funding sources include Low Income Housing Tax Credits, state housing deferred loans, an FHLB Affordable Housing Program grant and a local CPA grant.
Eagle Mill, Lee
This 192,000 SF former paper mill located on 8.4 acres next to the Housatonic River was a major employer in the area until it closed in 2008. BHDC and development partner Rees-Larkin Development are participating in an adaptive reuse of the property that will include housing, retail/ commercial uses and market rate condominiums. BHDC and RLD are leading the housing development with a plan to create up to 130 units of affordable and workforce rental housing. The project will be constructed in multiple phases. Funding for Phase I was completed in July 2021. Construction is expected to begin in early 2022. The project will convert the former Union and Eagle Mill buildings into 56 apartments, community spaces and a management office. The total development cost for Phase I is $25 million. The later phases will include 43 units in a newly constructed 56,000 SF, four-story building overlooking the river and a two-story mixed-use building fronting on Main Street that will contain retail on the main floor and housing on the upper floors.