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Green Future Planned for Former Hess Station in Pittsfield
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:01AM / Wednesday, January 05, 2022
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The city successfully bid on the former Hess service station on Tyler Street last fall. Plans are to demolish a building and take up the paving to turn it into community green space.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city plans to turn the blighted former Hess station into green space that aligns with other improvement efforts on Tyler Street.

A purchase-and-sale agreement is currently in the works for Pittsfield to buy the property, which includes a small building on the paved lot. The site will be cleared in conjunction with Tyler Street Streetscape work this year.

"We're not anticipating this being some lengthy design process," City Planner CJ Hoss said. "We're really looking at trying to green the site, remove the pavement, remove the building, and just really clean it up, remove the blight and have it back in some sort of productive use where the community can use it."

MassDevelopment provided the city with a $125,000 grant for the acquisition and demolition of the existing structures.  It was approved by the City Council on November 23.

Hess vacated the site over ten years ago and prior to that, it had been operating as a gas station since at least the 1960s.

Planning for the redevelopment started about five years ago when a neighborhood revitalization plan was developed as part of the city's Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) efforts.

"When we had initial meetings, (St. Mary of the Morningstar church) was vacant, this property was vacant, and those were both obviously targeted properties where the community really wanted to see change," Hoss explained.

He added that, over the years, councilors have put requested updates on the Hess site trying to understand where the city stood with it.

Based on feedback from residents and other stakeholders, the plan called for the space to be used as some sort of community space. This didn't necessarily mean a park, but a cleaned-up and public-facing environment.

In fiscal 2020, the council approved $200,000 in the capital budget for the acquisition and cleanup of this property. Between then and now, there hadn't been much public discussion about the project.

The property was auctioned in the fall and the city successfully bid on it. MassDevelopment then stepped in with financial assistance, which will largely be used for demolition.

"The goal right now is to do something that's more like a low cost, low maintenance, more passive use of the property," Hoss said.

There hasn't been a close on the sale yet but Hoss did not anticipate any issues occurring with it.

Tyler Street has been undergoing a number of development efforts, including the Morningstar Apartments, the future Tyler Street Firehouse apartments, and Milltown Capital's nearly completed apartment development.

It also has the city's first roundabout, which is part of the $5.5 million streetscape efforts to increase safety for all modes of transportation including automobile, bus, bicycle, and pedestrians.

The project was awarded a $3 million MassWorks grant that was matched by the city of Pittsfield, resulting in $6 million in funding.  

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