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Pittsfield to gain full-time consultant for efforts in Tyler Street area

December 22, 2015 : The Berkshire Eagle, by Jim Therrien

PITTSFIELD — Efforts to revitalize the Tyler Street area have gotten another boost from the state in the form of a full-time consultant.

MassDevelopment has selected Pittsfield, Brockton and New Bedford for its second round of the Transformative Development Initiative Fellows program to advance local redevelopment visions in targeted TDI Districts.

Beginning next year, a professional with experience in city planning, community partnership building, real estate and economic development will work with the district for three years in collaboration with local partnerships on the Tyler Street area.

These fellows, who are in the process of being hired through MassDevelopment, follow the initial TDI placements earlier this year in Haverhill, Lynn and Springfield.

"This grant is another recognition that Pittsfield is moving forward," said Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield. "Support through the TDI program will help revitalize the Tyler Street corridor and build on the great work of local business and community organizations."

MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the commonwealth.

The overall plan in Pittsfield is to turn the Tyler Street area into a thriving residential neighborhood linking a future innovation district and the nearby Berkshire Medical Center with stores within walking distance.

Pittsfield, Brockton and New Bedford are three of the 10 Massachusetts Gateway Cities selected in December 2014 as the pilot TDI Districts in Development. As a part of the program, each will receive a range of real estate development services to support local visions for redevelopment, and to catalyze and leverage investments and economic activities.

In Pittsfield, the Tyler Street Business Group, the city community development office and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, which manages the William Stanley Business Park near the Tyler Street corridor, began earlier this year working with a consultant to develop a vision plan for the Tyler Street/Morningside area.

"I am so grateful that the state has recognized this administration's efforts in Morningside, and has rewarded that work by assigning a Transformative Development Fellow to assist our continued efforts," said Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi. "By having this specialist appointed to Pittsfield, the Tyler Street neighborhood will be more likely to understand and achieve its full potential."

Bianchi said he believes development initiatives in the Morningside neighborhood and adjacent business park — including the planned Berkshire Innovation Center there — will stimulate further development, including an increase in market-rate housing.

Janis Akerstrom, the city's community development director, said the stakeholders in the Tyler Street initiative are continuing to work with the consultant, Elan Planning, Design and Landscape Architecture of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on a development concept and plan.

Following information-gathering sessions this year, the consultant has been helping prepare a draft plan for the district's future development, expected to be complete by the spring.

The city expects to receive more details on the fellowship program early next year, Akerstrom said.

MassDevelopment currently is accepting applications for these new fellows positions, which will begin in spring 2016. Information can be found on MassDevelopment's website — www.massdevelopment.com.

The first 10 Districts in Development were selected in 2014 for planning, enhanced technical and other assistance from MassDevelopment from among submissions entered by the state's 26 Gateway Cities. Applications identified local collaborative partnerships, strategic district visions and community engagement plans.

"The first three Fellows have quickly become indispensable parts of the economic-development communities in Haverhill, Lynn, and Springfield by partnering with local organizations to create redevelopment opportunities," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. "We look forward to the new faces that will arrive in Brockton, New Bedford and Pittsfield to support those cities' visions."

© Copyright 2015 The Berkshire Eagle.