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Debate sparks over lot at former GE site in Pittsfield

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Albany/HV: Debate sparks over lot at former GE site in Pittsfield
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A retail developer shows interest in a former GE site that's been vacant in Pittsfield for more than a decade. But local government officials are hesitant about approving the proposal. YNN's Madeleine Rivera has more on the reason why and what residents are saying about the project.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Many consider it an eyesore. Weeds growing between cracks in the uneven lot. It was once the thriving GE plant. Now, some question whether it's even possible to find someone willing to develop the William Stanley Business Park.

"This lot in particular, I don't think they're going to find is an easy lot to build on. It's not cost effective," said Diane Marcella, who owns a business just blocks away from the site.

So when Waterstone Retail Development proposed a plan to build a $30 million complex at the park's biggest lot, some jumped in support.

"We want the best for here and I know the city wants the best for here. And I think the city has to really keep the people here in the mind when they're making their decisions," said Marcella.

But Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi has held out on the idea of building a retail complex there.

"I think we've got to be patient. I think we've got a great opportunity to have a life science center and manufacturing center in that area," said Bianchi.

The lot has sat vacant for more than ten years. The length of time has caused Marcella to wonder if manufacturing companies are ever coming back to Pittsfield.

"Don't you think if it was worth that that they would have stayed here if it was a viable business?" she asked.

Residents say there are multiple other lots of land on the former GE site where manufacturing companies can be built. What they want is a compromise.

"If they're going to work that hard in getting manufacturing and industrial here, can't we work that hard to make this site look more presentable for the project as a whole? I just think that's a more practical way," Marcella said.

If the city accepts Waterstone's proposal, Waterstone would cover 100 percent of the costs of redeveloping this land.

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