Housing Project At Shuttered Pittsfield Church Lands Tax Incentives Deal

Jan 10, 2018

Pittsfield, Massachusetts has approved tax incentives for a redevelopment project at a shuttered church property. 

City councilors gave the greenlight for Pittsfield to offer CT Management Group a 20-year tax-exemption package. The development team wants to build and operate a 29-unit market-rate housing complex at the former St. Mary The Morning Star Church.

During her second State of the City address Monday night, Mayor Linda Tyer said the project is a milestone in closing Pittsfield’s market-rate housing gap.

“Right in the heart of Morningside,” Tyer said. “Saved from becoming a Dunkin’ Donuts.”

CT Management Group purchased St. Mary’s from the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in December for $500,000. The Diocese told WAMC it is pleased to see the property will benefit the Pittsfield community.

In 2014, the Diocese was going to sell the 9,600-square foot cathedral – but a group calling itself “Friends of St. Mary’s” formed to stop Cafua Management from transforming it into a drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant.

“The architectural exterior and cultural reverence for St. Mary’s will be preserved for future generations to come,” Tyer said.

The Tyer administration made a push in 2017 to revitalize Tyler Street, as it did with North Street, to attract young people, restore aging housing, and improve Pittsfield’s downtown. In July, Pittsfield extended the city’s Housing Development Incentive Program district to incorporate the church property.

CT Management has committed $7.5 million to the property in Pittsfield’s Morningside neighborhood, which has struggled with high crime and poverty rates.

The project developers will not pay property taxes for the first four years. In the fifth year, it will pay 20 percent and an additional 5 percent every year until 2038. By that year, the property’s value is expected to jump from about $459,000 to $1.8 million.  The property will generate $601,000 in revenue from property taxes in that time.

The tax increment exemption agreement takes effect in July.

“Three previous market-rate housing projects benefitted from these incentives - the Howard and Onota buildings have been highly successful and are fully occupied. The Holy Family/Powerhouse Lofts project is under construction. By the way, these stunning market rate housing units aren’t just sought after by young professionals. The Howard and the Onota boast a wonderful mix of young professionals and active seniors,” Tyer said. “Market-rate housing is truly an intergenerational asset for our city.”

The 2.6-acre church property, including a rectory and convent, are in poor condition. Developer David Carver said the schoolhouse in the back is in the worst condition.

“The school on the hill is an extraordinary challenge. I understand it has been empty for about 35 years perhaps, in that range. The inside is not in great condition but we think it is structurally sound and we are willing to explore its redevelopment – keep it intact," Carver said.