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Berkshires Gets $8M in State Economic Development Grants
Staff Reports, iBerkshires
12:33PM / Thursday, October 26, 2023
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The redevelopment of the Tower and Porter Block on historic Eagle Street in North Adams has received a $250,000 grant from the state's Underutilized Properties Program.

The second phase of Blackinton infrastructure project in North Adams is being funded by a $2 million Massworks grant. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The state's Executive Office of Economic Development has announced $164 million in grant funding through the Community One Stop for Growth application portal, including $7,824,400 for Berkshire County. 
North Adams received the highest amount in the county: $2.25 million for public and private development projects. Pittsfield is getting $540,000 for six projects and Cheshire, Dalton and Great Barrington up to $1 million each for road projects.  
The grants were announced during a kickoff celebration at Suffolk Downs in Revere honoring recipients of awards through the MassWorks and HousingWorks grant programs, two of the largest programs in the One Stop. Revere is a recipient of a MassWorks award for the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs, as well as a Housing Choice program grant. 
"One Stop is a vital economic development tool to spark growth, spur development and strengthen local economies across the state," said Gov. Maura Healey. "These funds will help make possible community-led projects that build vibrant downtowns and unlock economic potential in every region of Massachusetts, while creating new jobs, housing, and opportunity."
EOED received 783 applications in this funding round from 239 communities representing every region of the state. Of the 336 applications awarded, 26 percent are located in a rural or small town, 33 percent are located in a Gateway City, 61 percent are located in an Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority community, and 49 percent are located in a Housing Choice Community. EOED estimates the One Stop awards will help create more 8,000 new housing units across the state including 3,000 new affordable units, 10,000 new permanent jobs, and more than 5.4 million square feet of new commercial development.  
The largest Berkshires grant was to North Adams in the form of $1.97 million through the Massworks Infrastructure program for continued infrastructure work in Blackinton. The months-long project is designed to improve stormwater drainage and prevent flooding near Ashton Avenue and has included culvert and bridge work. The initial funding of $2.4 million addressed the immediate infrastructure issues that have slowed attempts to redevelop the Blackinton Mill and included the installation of a 5-foot diameter stormwater pipe between Ashton Avenue and Wood Street.
This second phase addresses the city-owned former tannery site as landscaped greenspace and as a new parking area for the Blackinton Mill and public recreation amenities. This public work has been considered critical to enabling the private redevelopment of the mill as part of the Tourists resort. Tourists is proposing a $17 million overhaul of the century-old mill in to 50 hotel rooms, a restaurant and reception space. 
Eagle Street Holdings Inc., with principal Veselko Buntic, is getting $250,000 from the Underutilized Properties Program for the redevelopment of the Tower and Porter Block on historic Eagle Street into nine units of market-rate housing and two commercial units. Funds will be used for the engineering, purchase, and installation of HVAC systems throughout the entire building. 
Wheel Estates Tenants Association has been granted $30,000 from HousingWorks Infrastructure Program in partnership with city for a Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Report (PER/ER) to consider several infrastructure upgrades vital to the health and safety of the community of nearly 200 manufactured homes. 
Pittsfield's grants include $50,000 each for a Berkshire Innovation Center "node" at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams (Collaborative Workspace); for the Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association for activating community spaces with lighting, especially for Festive Frolic and 10x10 Upstreet arts festivals (Commonwealth Places); and planning for the city's downtown housing program (Community Planning). 
Also in Pittsfield, AM Management LLC is getting $200,000 through Underutilized Properties to convert a 20,000-square-foot office building on Wendell Avenue into 28 units of mixed-income housing of which eight will be affordable; Blackshires Community Empowerment Foundation Corp. $100,000 for its Leadership Program Accelerator; and Berkshire Regional Planning Commission $90,000 toward planning a pipeline to prepare municipal employees. 

An image of the 23-room Dutch colonial Cassilis farm estate from a real estate listing. 

Dalton and Great Barrington are each getting $1 million MassWorks grants for the reconstruction of Orchard Road and the infrastructure and pedestrian improvements to the south end of Main Street, respectively; Cheshire is getting $890,000 in MassWorks for a full-depth reclamation of Ingalls Road.

Funding from the Rural and Small Town Development Fund includes $500,000 to convert the 1890 Cassilis farm estate into 11 units of affordable housing in New Marlaborough; $472,600 to replace 3,000 feet of waterline on North State Road in Cheshire; $446,000 to replace a culvert on Sandisfield Road in Monterey; and $250,800 to update Lee's 120 decorative downtown lights to LED. The Alandar Group is getting $450,000 from Underutilized Properties to complete renovation of a historic 22,504-square-foot building in Great Barrington into two retail spaces and 13 units of mixed-income housing of which two will be affordable.


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