A Walking Tour of Hospital Hill



As the hospital came to a close, the Commonwealth began to open the land for development. Many developers were not interested due to the expense of repair and demolition. After the city extended the deadline and lowered its requirements for the future of the land, the Community Builders and the Trust were the two foremost developers (1). The Community Builders expressed interest in small retail shops, mixed-income housing, and jobs in "new media", while the Trust hoped to develop museums, build more houses (but purchase less land) than the Community Builders, and create jobs in eco-tourism, youth day camps, and health care (2). The project ultimately went to the Community Builders, who partnered later with MassDevelopment, because they expressed more interest in preserving some of the hospital buildings (3). The master plan was divided into two phases to quickly obtain approvals from the state and start construction and demolition before the entire project was approved. Phase I, which involved construction of homes in the Ice Pond site, Kollmorgen location, and housing north of Route 66, was completed, even though historical commissions voiced a desire to preserve the buildings (4). Some suggested creating a museum or reutilizing the main building for studio apartments, and individuals argued that the main building was worth more than redeveloped properties (5).

On November 4, 2003, a nonbinding ballot question asked whether construction of the new site should procede with Phase II, which would construct 158 residential units and 324,000 square feet of industrial space. 60% voted to continue development, which led to demolition of the main building and construction of the new neighborhood on Village Hill (6). Construction is still in progress as of December 2014.


Redevelopment Timeline

Prepared and Revised by Tom Riddell (July 2012) and Abigail Milewski (May 2014)

1997 – Request for Proposals for redevelopment of 154 acres and buildings (Division of Capital Planning and Operations)

1998 – The Community Builders (Springfield office) selected as master developer

1999 – Master plan from The Community Builders presented to the Division of Capital Asset Management (previously DCPO)

1999 – Preparation of Parcel C by National Guard for recreation fields

2000 – Mass Development selected as partner to The Community Builders, as master developers

2001 – “Save Old Main” forms and organizes

2002- Hospital Hill LLC with MassDevelopment buy the “campus” from DCAM for $1

2002 – Environmental Impact Statement for “Phase 1” and for the Full Build-Out

Late 2002 – property transferred from state to developers

2003 – Final EIR for Full Project, some remediation & demolition

2003 – Initial development of Parcel “E,” the Ice Pond (site preparation, sale of 20 lots within 48 hours of going on the market, and lottery for 6 affordable housing sites)

2003 – lively debate in Northampton on two referenda questions in November election, Question 1 on approval of moving forward with Phase 2 of the redevelopment and Question 2 on approval of efforts to stabilize Old Main to preserve options of Reuse; 60% in favor of Phase 2 plans and 60% against stabilizing Old Main

2003 – Northampton Housing Authority and HAP announce plans for Paradise Pond, an affordable housing development on former hospital property on West Street (behind Jessie’s house)

2004 – Northampton Planning Board approves site plan for the Village at Hospital Hill

2004 – Construction at the Ice Pond Parcel of road system and several single family homes

2004 – Planning Board approves plan for North Campus as part of Phase One (new road and renovation of South Employees Home and the Nurses Home)

Summer 2004 – demolition of AP and G buildings, Memorial Complex

Fall 2004 – Planning Board approval of plan for Paradise Pond Apartments, between Smith Field House and Jessie’s House (later to become Grace House)

Early 2005 – Kollmorgen abandons plans to move to Village at Hospital Hill

Early 2005 – Planning Board approves general plans and layout for the “south campus”

Spring 2005 – agreement reached to lease land between Northampton Housing Authority and HAP, Inc. (Springfield) for Paradise Pond apartments project

Summer 2005 – work in progress on new road (Village Hill Road) and utilities, as well as renovations of South Employees Home and Nurses Home for 33 mixed income rental housing units

Fall 2005 -- $1.6 million grant from the federal government for road connections to Routes 66 and 10, reconstruction of Earle Street, and for the South Campus Road; plus $400,000 from the Massachusetts Highway Department (previously $1.8 million from the state for the North Campus Road)

Fall 2005 – $28 million estimate from MassDevelopment to develop the site for reuse; receipt of $2 million state Community Development Action Program grant for demolition, site cleanup, utilities, infrastructure and south campus road

November 2005 – Bids requested and submitted for the demolition of the Old Main Complex, plus some barns, the piggery, and the recreation building, ranging from $5.4 to 7.6 million (perhaps beginning in February 2006)

December 2005 – Applications for low-income units in Hilltop Apartments being accepted; some units available in early 2006

February 2006 – Hilltop Apartments, formerly the nurses’ home, opens for tenants

April 2006 – Demolition of Old Main begins with utility capping

July 2006 – Cornerstone time capsule found and opened

October 2006- Development’s first commercial tenant, VCA, begins construction on south campus

May 2008 - Wright Builders’ begins construction of residential developments on north campus

October 2008 – DMH holds memorial in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the Brewster consent decree

January 2011 – Kollmorgen Electro-Optical moves into newly constructed building on South campus

February 2012- L-3 Communications purchases Kollmorgen, now L-3 KEO

April 2012 – Groundbreaking for Pecoy Homes bungalow complex

November 2012 – Groundbreaking for the mixed-use facility, first commercial development on the north campus (Gate House office building)

November 2012 – Northampton’s Community Preservation Act Committee awards $75,000 for the restoration of the fountain for the memorial park


Map Overlay - Megan Mendenhall, '18

Northampton State Hospital (2001) to Village Hill at Northampton (2011). From John Brady, Geology, Smith.

Village Hill Master Plan (October 2013)