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Preferred developer named for housing

Date: 7/26/2011

July 27, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE — Wayne Bessette of Waycon Inc. has been named the preferred developer for the five single-family homes on “General’s Way” on the border of Westover Air Reserve Base.

Mayor Michael Bissonnette told Reminder Publications the city received $250,000 for the sale of the homes, which were conveyed by the federal government to Chicopee earlier this year. The transfer was made official in late April.

The purchase and sale agreement between the city and Waycon would be finalized once the titles to the properties clear, Bissonnette said.

He said that Bessette’s company has “a long track record of developing housing.” The homes will remain market rate single-family dwellings, he added.

Bessette will also have to submit his renovation plan for the properties. In a letter to Bessette, Bissonnette wrote that that all of the necessary factors in the sale, including any zoning approvals, should be completed before Sept. 30.

Although there was a lot of interest in the properties, Bissonnette said there were not many bids for them. He attributed that to the still-recovering economy.

As noted by Sgt. Andrew Biscoe at the open house for the properties on May 6, the five houses were built in the mid-1940s and were the homes of Air Force generals deployed to the base when it was an active duty facility. The last time the housing was used by Air Force personnel was in 1989, he added.

Bissonnette has been meeting with the owners associations of the condominium projects nearby for their feedback about the development.

Along with the five single-family homes, the city also received 120 duplex units of housing at the base’s perimeter and Bissonnette said a Request for Proposals for that housing would be released before the end of the year.

That property may be more difficult to redevelop, he said.

“It’s going to take some creative thinking,” he noted.

Since the announcement of the transfer of the properties, Bissonnette has said any redevelopment of the duplex housing would have to be consistent with the existing housing in the neighborhood. He said “the preferable template” for the duplexes would be housing designed for people over the age of 55.

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