GREAT BARRINGTON – Suggestions for the revitalization of the building that once housed the Housatonic School in the heart of this village are on the table.
They range from apartments from a Berkshire developer who promises to keep rents affordable for middle-income residents to a hair and makeup museum.
There’s also a proposal from the Berkshire Innovation Center for a South County Hub, or “BIC South,” that would include technology labs like a digital design studio.
“It will be a hub for programming, gaming and robotics competitions and hackathons,” wrote B. Stephen Boyd, executive chairman of the Pittsfield-based center.
The four proposals come in response to a third attempt by city officials to find a new use for a historic building, a place steeped in nostalgia for residents.
These proposals come 16 years after the school district moved students to new schools on Route 7. The building was used for various purposes for a period before being abandoned. A long decline began, which cost the city many tens of thousands.
Will a third time be the stimulus? Great Barrington officials have seen a lot of interest in the former Housatonic School since there was a new push for developers.
Other attempts to rehabilitate the building failed. Local residents and city officials toyed with demolishing the building and planting a park.
The Select Board will review the proposals at an upcoming meeting and set times for people to comment.
The four suggestions are described below. Click on the links to view offer details.
WDM Properties, LLC: 10 “middle-income” oriented, two-bedroom, commercial-market condominiums for $1,750 per month. The Company owns and operates other complexes in the Berkshires. Recent WDM projects include new apartments at St. Mary’s Church in Pittsfield and Wayfair’s new premises in the Clock Tower Business Center. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2023 with a $3.5 million budget that would include some public funding.
Arete Venture Partners, LLC: 14 market-leading apartments, with three potentially designated affordable, and a “community flex space” on the ground floor “where it is intended to operate a retail store and to have various community groups and non-profit organizations have common access throughout.” year.” Construction would start in mid-2023.
The Mason Museum of Body Arts: It would, according to the developers, be the first museum in the world focused on head and body art and serve as a “permanent cultural institution that will engage the community in new and creative ways.” Founder Linda Mason, a makeup artist and entrepreneur who began her career in Paris doing catwalk shows, says the site is something of a “Mecca” for those in the industry looking for inspiration. The museum would have permanent exhibitions and ongoing artist programs, conferences, retail, and a café. Mason proposes an opening in 2025.
Berkshire Innovation Center: The company aims to grow after establishing the first “BIC” in Pittsfield in 2020 as a “central hub for advanced manufacturers and other technology-driven companies in our region”. BIC also wants to expand to North Adams for a “BIC North”. As it expands in the county, it will help students and businesses outside of Pittsfield connect with the BIC, wrote B. Stephen Boyd, BIC board chairman. Boyd is asking for a two-year exclusive deal with the city to plan the project and raise $10 million for it.