Council to take up request for mixed-income housing at Hope Street lot in Greenfield

  • City Council’s Economic Development Committee has forwarded a positive recommendation to the full council regarding the possible development of the Hope Street parking lot as mixed-income housing once it’s no longer needed for temporary fire station. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/13/2021 5:32:32 PM

GREENFIELD — The City Council’s Economic Development Committee has forwarded a positive recommendation to the full council regarding a resolution requesting the mayor pursue the development of the Hope Street parking lot as mixed-income housing once it’s no longer needed for use of the temporary fire station.

The temporary fire station, which recently became fully operational, is expected to be in use for about two years.

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner told councilors at their subcommittee meeting Tuesday night that it is “too soon” for her to form an opinion on whether the idea is feasible.

“In theory, I don’t think it’s a bad idea, because we have limited land on which to develop housing, particularly the kind of housing we’re thinking of — a more dense housing in the urban core,” she said. “As a practicality, I can’t say at this moment in time. It will be out of commission as a parking lot for two years. We are already experiencing the strains of those parking spaces not being available.”

Wedegartner said a substantial portion of the city’s income comes from parking revenue.

“We knew that going into taking this (parking lot) out of revenue,” she said.

The mayor’s Chief of Staff Dani Letourneau added that with the current system of parking, it’s difficult to identify and calculate individual parking revenue. That said, she estimated that a private development would bring in substantially more in property taxes than what parking would bring in.

“Subsidized would work a little differently, but I still think it would be a substantial increase,” she said.

Councilors on the subcommittee discussed the necessity of the land as a parking lot, as well as the need for housing in the downtown area.

At-Large Councilor Ashli Stempel-Rae said one element of the discussion would need to be what type of housing the city would like to see, or if a portion would be affordable.

“The reality is we need affordable housing, but we also need all levels of housing to support the affordable housing,” she said.

The consensus among councilors seems to be to move the conversation forward to the full council for the purpose of further discussion.

“I feel we should move it forward with a positive recommendation and have an open forum at some point with the public,” said Precinct 9 Councilor Norman Hirschfeld. “It’s a great, great opportunity for building.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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