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Pittsfield Panel Approves 10-Year TIE for Tyler Street Firehouse
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
02:46AM / Monday, September 27, 2021
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The old firehouse is being converted into two-bedroom apartments. The TIE will give developer CT Management a property tax break over 10 years.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The subcommittee on Community and Economic Development on Tuesday unanimously approved a 10-year tax increment exemption agreement for the conversion of the Tyler Street firehouse into four residential units.

The TIE agreement, which is the residential version of tax increment financing, will save developer CT Management around $55,000 in residential taxes and will bring in about $65,000 into the city.

One hundred percent of an incremental increase will be forgiven for two years and then it will drop to 80 percent for years three and four, 60 percent for years five and six, 40 percent for years seven and eight, and 20 percent for years nine and 10.
 
CT Management's entire investment into the property is estimated to be $1,250,000.

This will be the first time that the city is receiving any taxes from this property, as it was built as a firehouse in the early 1900s and was out of use from the 1970s. It was used mainly for storage until 2008 when it was shuttered.

The firehouse was up for demolition and had been put out for bid six times before managing partner David Carver, who has completed a number of similar projects locally, decided to make it his next venture.

Last month, the City Council approved a $100,000 allocation from the fiscal 2022 Community Preservation Act fund to go toward the firehouse's roof that is in dire condition.

Carver said this tax agreement is needed to not only cut down expenses but to make rents more affordable.

He explained that the project is subject to a ratio of breaking even and meeting debt service coverage from the bank. With a standard real estate tax bill of about $12,500, the complex would have to charge over $2,000 a month for rent.

Comparatively, with the tax agreement starting the tax bill at around $2,300 and graduating over 10 years to $12,000, rents will be reduced to around $1,800.  

Carver strives to preserve as much of the interior and exterior detail of original properties as possible while meeting functional requirements and building permits.

He plans on converting the firehouse into four large two-bedroom units while keeping the original aesthetic of the structure, even going as far as brick matching.

A small original section on the back of the building will be removed because it has collapsed and will make way for more space there.

Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer said the city issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the sixth time as a "last-ditch effort."

She told the subcommittee that Mayor Linda Tyer is proposing the 10-year TIE agreement because of how long this property was vacant and the recognition of the magnitude of investment that had to be made into it.

The city was preparing to approach the Historical Commission for the destruction of the building before Carver showed interest.

"We were preparing to have to demolish the property," Ruffer said. "We recognize that the destruction of the structure over the last two winters ago had gotten too bad and we were anticipating it very likely it could have fallen in on itself this winter."

The councilors had questions pertaining to details about the redevelopment but in general, were in support of the project.

Councilor at Large Earl Persip III asked about the project’s timeline. Carver said he expects a full-scale rebuild to start in January or February with a projected completion date of fall 2022.

Persip cited Carver's portfolio of historical re-developments.

In the last decade, CT Management has converted churches into the Power House Lofts on Seymour Street, the Notre Dame Residences on Melville Street and the Morning Star Apartments on Tyler. It has also converted a church in North Adams and another in Williamstown into housing.

"I will fully support this, I think it's appropriate for this space, and I'm excited to see what he's done," Persip said.

Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi was curious as to whether there will be a firepole or not, to which Carver said there is not currently a firepole in the building so there will not be.

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