Why King Street languishes

From Kirby on the Loose
By Mike Kirby
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why King Street languishes, why the Fire Station is where it is, why Roy Martin got almost 30% of the popular vote for mayor, and other minor mysteries cleared up.

Image via Kirby on the Loose

Image via Kirby on the Loose

At a forum before last month’s election, a woman asked the candidates for councilor at large, “Why all the empty lots on King Street?”

None of the candidates seemed to have a take on what was wrong. Just some of the usual bromides. It’s clear, however, that the people that are building and expanding businesses are locating elsewhere. Look to our north, where new businesses are springing up all along along Routes 5 and 10 in Hatfield, just north of the town line. Look at where the Valley Medical program money is going: Easthampton and Greenfield. Look at all the earth-moving equipment working in Easthampton. Easthampton Savings Bank is building a three-story building barely 100 yards from our town line. Look at all the construction along Rte. 9 in Hadley. Modern office space, modern industrial buildings. There are no new commercial or industrial buildings going up on Hospital Hill. Why?

And then look at King Street, bracketed on the south by that huge empty parking lot that once held Lia Honda, and then the empty Kollmorgen buildings that Pat Goggins called “useless” this year. And behind the railroad, you will find increasing numbers of vacancies at the Industrial Park. It had zero vacancies in 1999, now there are four or five buildings vacant. The other day I saw signs outside Tiger Press telling us they are moving to East Longmeadow. They are an expanding successful business, and were able to find a big 100,000 square foot building in East Longmeadow. Their 65 employees are going with them. Their offices were emptying out and the packing boxes were everywhere. I was told by one of my reliable sources that their cost per square foot was cheaper down south than here. I called Northampton’s economic development coordinator, Teri Anderson, and she confessed that she had not known they were shopping around last year when they were making up their minds where to go. Clare Higgins hired an old friend to head up economic development, and didn’t go outside to get a really qualified person. The two women go back to the eighties, when they both worked at Hampshire Community Action Commission (HCAC). Teri was in charge of HCAC’s fuel assistance program, and was good at it. But it was a one- woman program, her credentials in economic development are slender, she always has been more at home behind a desk, and she will never be a dynamic “out on the streets” kind of person the job needs.

Contract issued for James House

From The Republican
By Fred Contrada
Wednesday, August 13, 2010

James House, Republican file photoThe James House, a 19th century building that some feared would become a white elephant for the city, is about to complete its transformation to an adult learning center.

Teri A. Anderson, Northampton’s Economic and Community Development Coordinator, said this week that the city has awarded a $201,000 contract to Garland Construction of Chicopee to complete the second phase of renovation. The project will be financed entirely with federal stimulus funds and a gift from the Beveridge Foundation and will not cost the city any money, Anderson said.

The city bought the Gothic Street building in 1994 for $355,000 with the thought of using it to house a new police station. A planning committee instead chose to build the new police facility next to the current one on Center Street.

The Franklin-Hampshire Juvenile Court occupied the James House for several years before moving to Hadley in 2008. About that time, Mayor Mary Clare Higgins began developing a plan to use the building for adult education, noting that Northampton is one of the few county seats without a community college.

The first phase of the project, which transformed the former juvenile court administrative offices into child-care classrooms, was completed last year. The labor for that project was donated by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Local 108 and by the Westover Job Corps.

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Ghosts of the past have finally been laid to rest.

From BusinessWest
Monday, June 22, 2009

teri-22june09The most prominent is the transformation of the former Northampton State Hospital campus, where ghosts of the past have finally been laid to rest. After decades of talk and bureaucratic maneuvers — along with $28 million spent on the demolition of numerous buildings, environmental studies, new utility installations, and other necessary measures to prepare the site for development — new residential and industrial growth has taken root.

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Hospital project is still waiting

From The Republican
Sunday, February 10, 2008
By Fred Contrada

After a decade of waiting, Northampton is hoping that 2008 will be the year that a new commercial and industrial complex finally rises from the rubble of Northampton State Hospital.

Ever since the hospital shut down in the early 1990s, the city has looked to the sprawling campus as its greatest opportunity for new business space. The process of turning the land over from the state to the city took years. When that was finally accomplished, there was more waiting for the state and federal help needed to develop the site.

Story Continues…


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