MassDevelopment and the Belchertown Economic Development Industrial Corporation (BEDIC) announce that demolition will commence at the Belchertown State School this coming week. Associated Building Wreckers of Springfield started the project in March and have almost finished the necessary asbestos abatement, which must be complete prior to starting demolition. Demolition of several buildings and tunnels, including the School’s hospital building, will open up Pad 1 for the planned assisted living facility.
“We are entering an exciting new chapter in the Belchertown community,” said Sen. Eric P. Lesser. “The demolition and clean-up of the site is an important step in the redevelopment of the State School property, which will serve as an engine of economic growth for the town and broader region.”
“Our objectives and goals since the inception of this project have always been to promote this Belchertown site,” said Rep. Thomas Petrolati (7th Hampden District). “The release of the $4 million from the bond funds for this cleanup is a positive step in promoting private and economic development.”
“This exciting news will provide development opportunities on a significant portion of the former Belchertown State School and position the Town’s EDIC and MassDevelopment well for additional economic growth at this location,” said Gary Brougham, Belchertown Town Administrator.
Pad 1 is the site where Grantham Group LLC, a Boston-based assisted living developer, plans to build an 83-unit complex (more than 40 of which will be affordable). The project will support 65 construction jobs and create 40 permanent positions. Last week, the Grantham Group applied to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for a Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) allocation. The allocation is crucial for the project to progress. Local, tangible support is needed as part of a competitive application, and the Belchertown Community Preservation Committee has recommended an appropriation of $218,000 from the Belchertown CPA Affordable Housing Reserve toward the project. MassDevelopment, BEDIC, and the Grantham Group LLC will seek voter approval of the recommended appropriation at Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 11.
“The Belchertown EDIC is very pleased with the agreements moving the Grantham Assisted Living Facility forward and see this as the start of the final clearing of the remaining campus for development,” said Jonathan Spiegel, member of the Belchertown Economic Development Industrial Corporation. “We expect the Assisted Living Facility to provide good jobs and additional tax revenue for the town and be the core of a future ‘continuum of care’ area within the campus.”
“We are excited to see the clean-up work underway as our assisted living community will be the first private investment to occur on the campus and represents the first concrete step in terms of catalyzing further development of the former institution.” said Grantham Group’s Managing Director, Walter Ohanian. “Thank you to the BEDIC and MassDevelopment for choosing us as partners for this project.”
In 2014, then-Governor Patrick ordered the release of $4 million in bond funds toward clean-up at the former State School campus. MassDevelopment executed a contract with the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and has programmed funds for demolition of additional buildings in the southern portion of the campus. In addition to supporting the development on Pad 1, the planned second phase of demolition will open up more development parcels for senior independent living, office space, and other businesses. The Business Neighborhood Zoning District, approved by voters in December 2014, is intended to result in a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood that encourages opportunities for businesses and residences in Belchertown.
“Cleaning up the southern portion of the Belchertown State School campus will encourage private investment and promote economic activity throughout the site,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “This site benefits from support at both the local and state levels, and we look forward to the work ahead.”
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2014, MassDevelopment financed or managed 314 projects generating investment of more than $2.9 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create more than 6,300 jobs and build or rehabilitate more than 1,600 residential units.