PITTSFIELD – A proposal to redevelop the old Morningside Fire Hall into four apartments at market price has advanced a $ 100,000 increase in Community Preservation Act money.
The community preservation committee voted on Monday in favor of CT Management Group’s request for this amount. City Council will consider the committee’s funding recommendation at a future meeting.
Developer David Carver is raising funds to convert the historic and long-vacant fire hall into four apartments. He told the committee that the PCA money is needed to secure the roof of the structure before winter.
âThe main roof is leaking badly, and it’s going through and starting to damage the wood frame. That’s what worries us,â Carver said. âIf the timber frame cannot be salvaged, the project is probably beyond our reach. “
The brick firehouse at 231 Tyler Street, which opened in 1906 and was designed by famed Pittsfield architect Joseph McArthur Vance, has become a ‘bane’, said director of community development Deanna Ruffer . She said the city has solicited proposals to redevelop the property six times over the past 20 years. A potential developer decided not to buy the property last year, she said.
But, before the city proceeded to demolish the property, it once again called for proposals.
âWe have published another [request for proposal], and CT Management, led by David Carver, have stepped up, âsaid Ruffer.
Mayor Linda Tyer’s administration is supporting Carver’s redevelopment efforts, which Ruffer says aligns with the city’s vision for Tyler Street. She said the city encouraged Carver to apply for Community Preservation Act money outside of the usual funding cycle developed by the Community Preservation Committee because the “unique” building is in “serious” condition.
“The building may not survive another winter or survive to the point where the applicant is actually willing to move this project forward,” added town planner Cornelius Hoss.
The plans include the demolition of a rear potion of the building where the roof collapsed, an area that Carver says would be used for parking.
The committee typically reviews a basket of funding requests and provides its project recommendations to the board as part of the spring budget process. But, the committee decided by a split vote to consider Carver’s funding request outside of its normal cycle.
The committee has recommended out-of-cycle APC funding once, when it approved a $ 100,000 request Tyer made for emergency housing assistance towards the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. ‘last year. Carver said the PCA money will cover about 8% of the costs associated with the $ 1.25 million redevelopment project. The other sources of financing are bank financing and $ 250,000 in company equity.
Committee members Jonathan Lothrop and Edward Carmel voted against considering Carver’s application outside of the typical funding cycle, expressing concern that the committee is processing the request. Lothrop then voted in favor of recommending the project for funding, while Carmel voted against.
“If you’re doing it for one person, how don’t you do it for someone else?” Lothrop said, adding that his position had nothing to do with the merits of the candidacy. “I’m just kind of a government geek, and this stuff bothers me a bit.”
Chairman of the committee John Dickson said the committee’s funding process is not “Set in stone,” and Hoss said the committee had the discretion to recommend projects for funding.
âThe CPA fund is set up specifically for applications like this,â Hoss said, adding that some other communities receive requests for CPA funding multiple times in any given year.
Member Libby Herland highlighted Carver and CT Management’s track record in rehabilitating diseased structures.
âIf we didn’t know his work and the quality of his work, I might have a little more hesitation, but we know he has worked wonders with buildings,â she said. “I am 100% convinced that this building can be saved if he can get in early enough to do so.
Carver said his company does not yet own the building, which is under contract while funding is on hold to see if the project is feasible.
Tyer, Ruffer said, “allowed us to do everything possible to put in place other incentives” for the proposal.
“The city is doing everything possible to align this so that at the latest Dave can own this property within the next 60 days,” she said.