PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Tyler Street Fire Station was at risk for demolition before a local developer saw it as a potential apartment building.
The Historical Commission on Monday deemed the fire station historically significant, making it eligible for Community Preservation Act funding that will support its proposed restoration.
Developer David Carver and CT Management — who built the Morningstar Apartments in the former St. Mary’s Church down the street — want to convert the station into four residential units.
Carver has worked to preserve as much of the interior and exterior detail of original properties as possible while meeting functional requirements and building permits. He has done a number of historically significant properties that have undergone renovation for new uses.
“A year ago I would have likely told you that there’s probably going to be an application to demolish the fire station but for a number of reasons, one more attempt was made so the [request for proposals] was issued, I think it was more toward the beginning of winter, and there was a successful bidder,” City Planner CJ Hoss said to the panel.
“I think there’s still some work to do on a potential transaction but Dave Carver and CT Management put in a proposal, they will buy the fire station and converted to four residential units, and right now, CT Management is working on lining up the financing to actually pull the project together.”
This project was requested to be submitted to the Community Preservation Committee as an emergency rather than being included in the next funding cycle. Following Monday’s determination, Hoss will set up a meeting with the committee to see if it will consider this application out of cycle and, if so, how they wish to proceed.
The fire station is a Joseph McArthur Vance building constructed in the early 1900s. Vance was a prominent architect in Pittsfield who designed residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational buildings.
Some of Vance’s designs include the Colonial Theatre, the Bascom Lodge atop Mount Greylock, and the Hotel Aspinwall in Lenox, which burned to the ground in 1931.
Hoss disclosed that the building’s roof has issues and that CPA funding could possibly be used to repair it.
“The bigger issue is just moving the project forward, knowing that everything is in line financially, I would guess that’s going to be built into the contract is giving some flexibility to figure out how to actually make this financially feasible and there’s always going to be question marks around that,” he added.
“I think that’s where this is going from the emergency perspective, the funds may not necessarily go to the roof, but knowing that they would be available if there was a positive recommendation eventually from CPC to the City Council certainly helps start sooner rather than later to shore it up for a winter.”
Hoss has not seen all of the plans yet but said the two garage bays in the front of the building are to be preserved and functional for the units and from the bottom level, two interior garage spaces would be created.
“I can’t say if that a small portion of the building needs to come down to allow for that, or if it’s just the condition that that rear portion is going to be removed,” he said. “But that is the feeling as of right now, but I don’t want to speak with actual certainty until the plans are finalized and seen.”
The fire station has been out of use since 1970 and was used mainly for storage until being shutdown in 2008. There have been several ideas floated for the building, including as a new home for Berkshire Families & Children some years ago, but the condition of the building has been a deterrent to interested buyers.
In the last decade, CT Management has converted churches into the Power House Lofts on Seymour Street and the Notre Dame Residences on Melville Street. It has also converted a church in North Adams and another in Williamstown into housing.
Members of the commission were relieved to hear that the structure is set to be saved.
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