ZBA approves permit for CSO’s $23M shelter renovation, expansion

By MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-14-2023 5:49 PM

GREENFIELD — With the approval of its special permit application Thursday night, the community behavioral health agency Clinical & Support Options can move forward with its plans for the $23 million transformation of the emergency shelter at 60 Wells St.

The agency’s proposed design includes a renovation of the existing building and construction of a new, three-story structure, expanding shelter capacity from 30 to 40 beds and creating 36 studio apartments aimed at “extremely low-income,” formerly homeless individuals.

“We took over operations of the shelter itself as of April 1,” CSO’s Vice President of Housing and Shelter Bill Miller told the Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday night. “Behind the scenes, we’ve been developing this design with our team with consult from the city. … We came up with a design that combines shelter but also housing. Our goal with people in shelter is housing.”

The existing building is approximately 16,500 square feet, according to CSO Real Estate Project Manager/Housing Development Director Alyssa Larose. The new, three-story addition will be about 14,895 square feet. A special permit is required as the plan exceeds the 24 units allowed in the Central Commercial District.

Included in the design plans are provisions for laundry services, a cafeteria, a nursing office and a resource area, LaRose said. The building, located within walking distance of several social service agencies, will be staffed 24/7.

Miller previously explained there are about 10 different funding sources for the project — including the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) — that are funneled through the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

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The Community Preservation Committee also recently voted to recommend to City Council CSO’s request for $100,000 in Community Preservation Act funding for the project. City Council is expected to consider the request later this spring.

To bring the construction project to fruition, CSO is partnering with Rural Development Inc., the non-profit affordable housing development arm of the Turners Falls-based Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority, as well as Valley Housing Consultants, Jones Whitsett Architects and Berkshire Design Group.

“Our goal is to get people in and off the streets,” Miller said. “It takes time, but we’ve really reduced the number of people living outdoors in Springfield. … It’s ebbed and flowed here in Greenfield. We don’t need to fill every bed but we want to make sure we have enough flexibility so we can meet the needs of the city.”

Greenfield Housing Authority plans construction

In other business, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the Greenfield Housing Authority’s special permit application for the construction of a multi-family structure on Conway Street, on the strip of land between Elm and Conway streets. The structure, located between two other buildings owned by the housing authority, is proposed to have five two-bedroom apartments, one of which will be handicap-accessible.

“As we’ve looked to create new units — units are important in Greenfield, as they are everywhere — one of the major issues we have is the cost of land,” Greenfield Housing Authority Executive Director Tom Guerino told the ZBA. “This is a piece of property that is owned by the housing authority, and we know we can do by right.”

Guerino said between Oak Courts and Elm Terrace, the housing authority owns about 198 apartments. The authority also provides management and maintenance to properties owned by the Greenfield Housing Authority Inc., including 55 apartments at the Winslow Building.

The project will primarily be funded by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, with help from ARPA funds allocated to the housing authority by Mayor Roxann Wedegartner.

The proposal received written support from residents, as well as Joe Ruggeri, who chairs the nonprofit Greenfield Housing Association Inc.

“New construction offers a cleaner, safer, more energy-efficient unit,” Ruggeri said. “We love that it’s across from Valley Medical Group, down the street from Foster’s (Supermarket) and across the street from the bus stop.”

Resident Susan Worgaftik, speaking on behalf of the local housing advocacy organization Housing Greenfield, said roughly 67% of Greenfield could benefit from some level of subsidized housing.

“The need for subsidies to make it affordable for people is really great,” she said. “Although it’s only five units, it’s five units we really need.”

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

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