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Greenfield Recorder – Millions provided in state, federal funding to redevelop Wilson in Greenfield

Greenfield Recorder – Millions provided in state, federal funding to redevelop Wilson in Greenfield

An artist's rendering of what Green Fields Market might look like in the former Wilson's Department Store building on Main Street in Greenfield.

An artist’s rendering of what Green Fields Market might look like in the former Wilson’s Department Store building on Main Street in Greenfield.
PERSONAL FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

GREENFIELD — MassDevelopment has received more than $12.37 million in state and federal tax credits and grants to convert the former Wilson’s store on Main Street into a 61-unit affordable housing complex, Gov. Maura’s administration recently announced Healey.

Healey and Housing and Communities Secretary Ed Augustus joined local officials and housing developers across Massachusetts last week to announce the recipients of the 2024 Affordable Housing Development Grants. Twenty-seven affordable housing projects have received a total of $227 million in state and federal tax credits and grants, Wilson’s project being the only one in Franklin County.

MassDevelopment purchased Wilson’s in 2022, with plans to expand and move Green Fields Market to the building’s first floor, converting the upper floors into 61 mixed-income rental apartments, called “The Putnam.”

“These resources are an important part of the capital stack for this project, which revitalizes a vacant department store in the heart of downtown Greenfield into a mixed-use development with housing and a full-service grocery store. Congratulations to The Community Builders, our partners in this project along with Franklin Community Co-op, for securing this funding,” MassDevelopment spokeswoman Kelsey Schiller wrote in an email to the Greenfield Recorder on Thursday.

Among other funding supporting the project, a $1.56 million Affordable Housing Deep Energy Retrofit Grant was awarded in November 2023, allowing Community Builders to replace all of the Main Street building’s aging oil and gas systems .

Although Caitlin Von Schmidt, communications and outreach manager at the Franklin Community Co-op that operates Green Fields Market, said the co-op is still seeking funding for the project, the timeline for the redevelopment remains up in the air as conflict persists between one of the retailers on the ground floor of the building and MassDevelopment.

In November 2022, the site’s three ground-floor tenants—Cleary Jewelers, consignment store Hens & Chicks, and thrift store Lucky Bird—were told they would have to vacate the building by spring. However, Cleary Jewelers, which has been located on the first floor of the former department store building since it opened in 1928, now plans to stay put until its lease expires in 2029, owner Kerry Semaski previously explained.

Semaski’s attorney, John Connor, previously said Semaski had a clause in the lease allowing for a five-year renewal. Emails between Semaski, Connor and MassDevelopment indicate the business owner sent written notice to MassDevelopment in November 2023 to extend his lease. Connor previously said the lease’s renewal option clause, which states that the renewal is valid if expressed in writing to the landlord at least 180 days before the lease’s expiration date, is legally binding. He added that MassDevelopment and its client have since reached an agreement on the terms and conditions of the lease extension, which he said does not deviate from Semaski’s current lease except for a price change the rent.

“They have a long-standing business,” Connor said of Cleary Jewelers in April. “For them to get up and move would not make economic sense.”

Cleary Jewelers is the last remaining business on the ground floor of the former Wilson building. Hens & Chicks moved to 208 Main St. following negotiations with MassDevelopment, and Lucky Bird closed at the end of 2023.

Although Semaski confirmed that she plans to keep her business in its current location through 2029, she declined to provide further comment when contacted Thursday.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429.