The Pittsfield Plaza in Pittsfield, Massachusetts sits empty. Loose shingles bang in the breeze. Paint peels off in chunks. The building is drab and dismal looking. It is an invitation waiting for graffiti or for illegal activities during the dark of night. But this spring, all of that will change when it will become the site of a self storage facility.
Since 2007, the city has struggled with what to do with the building. They knew that a vacant building was an expense that they couldn’t afford. Studies have shown that property with vacant buildings have 3.2 times as many drug calls to police, twice the number of violet calls, and 1.8 times as many theft calls as do city blocks without vacant buildings. Many fires break out in vacant structures resulting in $73 million in property damage annually. (Most of the fires are cause by arson.)
The empty building now has new owners and things look promising for a revitalization of the property. Alfred Weissman Real Estate of Rye, New York, owns the vacant and dilapidated shopping center. (The building has been vacant since the last tenant moved out two years ago.)
Weissman Real Estate was granted special permit to revise the building and the site plans won the approval from the Community Development Board. Their development plan included an enclosed self storage at the west end of the building.
It will take up 40,000 square feet of the plaza. Some storage space will be left as is until the self storage owners can determine customer preference as to the size of units. For right now, most units will be around 100 square feet in size – with some of them being a little bit smaller. There will be up to 400 units built.
They set up a Facebook page for suggestions of other businesses that could also be in the plaza. Suggestions include a wide variety such as having something for children like a skating rink or a Chucky Cheese. Quite a few suggested that a Trader Joe store move in. Other popular suggestions include Kohls, the Olive Garden, and the Cheesecake Factory.
Initially, the owners had several delays and difficulties getting approval for a storage facility. Storage units were not allowed in the commercial zone. The real estate firm proposed an amendment to the city board asking for a zoning amendment that would allow them to build the self storage in the plaza. They were granted the request.
“Long-dormant Pittsfield Plaza cleared for storage units – and a facelift.” The Berkshire Eagle News; 20 March 2014.