by Stephen Dravis
by Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires.com, July 12, 2015
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Work at the Highland Woods senior housing project is on schedule with a planned opening in early 2016, the developer said recently.
“It’s really progressing well,” Berkshire Housing Development Corp. CEO Elton Ogden said. “We’re at the point now where we have the third floor framed and the roof trusses are going on for one third of the building.
“There’s been a ton of work being done, but it hasn’t always been obvious because there’s a lot of below-ground work. Once the framing starts, there is much more visible evidence.”
Ogden said he hopes to start signing leases after the first of the year.
Timing is important.
The town has invested heavily in the project being built near the current Proprietors Field senior housing project.
The largest commitment is $2.6 million the town plans to realize from the proceeds of the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant tied to the closure of the Spruces Mobile Home Park. The flood-prone park is scheduled to close for good Feb 29 2016.
Town officials have always intended that the 40-unit Highland Woods project, built on land donated by Williams College, will help fill some of the housing void left by the park’s closure. And the commonwealth’s Department of Housing and Community Development has agreed to a weighted lottery to give preference to Spruces residents in deciding who gets to be the initial Highland Woods residents.
“The plan is we’re going to begin marketing in early September,” Ogden said. “What we’re hoping to do is have at least a six-week application period. Then what happens is we have to verify they’re [income] eligible. Then all the eligible people go into a lottery.
“Our hope is we’ll be able to conduct the lottery in November. That schedule is still somewhat flexible.”
Meanwhile, Berkshire Housing and its Boston-based partner the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development are moving forward with its plan to develop affordable housing at the town-owned former Photech Mill property on Cole Avenue.
“We’re finally getting that off the back burner,” Ogden said.
“What we’ve done is we’ve put out an RFP [request for proposals] for an environmental consultant. … Basically we’re looking for someone to assist with a remediation plan. What we know is the building has lead paint and asbestos.”
Ogden said developers will be doing the remediation plan in parallel with the start of the design process for the parcel.
“We’ll really be ramping up on that over the summer,” he said.
In recent months, the Cole Avenue site has been used for storage of building materials, leading to speculation that a building project there was imminent. But the land is currently being used with permission of the town by R.K. Miles, the nearby building materials supplier that is renovating its property at the corner of Cole Avenue and North Hoosac Street.