NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Scarafoni Associates is planning to demolish parts of the former car dealership on Union Street and redevelop the rest for commercial use.
The proposal was to be presented to the Planning Board on Monday night but was postponed after one of the planners fell ill and the meeting was adjourned.
"It will allow us to do something with a piece of property that's been sitting there for awhile," said David Bond, who does commercial leasing for Scarafoni Associates.
The first tenant will be J Star Gymnastics, owned by Jonathan Girard. Girard said he closed his studio on Curran Highway about a month ago because the space wasn't working out. "We didn't want to close but it was something that had to be done," he said.
He's hoping to move his growing business — 60 students now and a cheerleading group — into the Union Street complex "as soon as possible." The move will require a special permit from the Planning Board to operate a gymnastics studio in an Industrial-1 zone.
Scarafoni and Associates is proposing to redevelop the former Chevrolet dealership on Union Street into commercial space. The building to the left, which sustained structural damage during the winter, will be torn down to provide more parking.
J Star will move into the 18,000-square-foot building along Union Street but won't take up the entire structure. Bond envisions using the rest of the building — showroom section of the former Shapiro/Gateway Chevrolet — for community or recreational uses such as Zumba classes.
Bond said the work will be done in phases, with the demolition of the sections of the buildings in poor condition. The garage area next to the showroom facing Canal Street was severely damaged from this past winter's heavy snow and is scheduled to be removed this month, pending approval by the Building Department. An older section between the Windsor Mill and the dealership on Union will also be demolished.
The property was originally part of the Windsor Mill until being operated as a car dealership since the 1940s. It's been sitting empty since Gateway moved out several years, part of a countywide consolidation of new car dealers.
Parking spots will replace the torn-down buildings and the property will be subdivided into three separate parcels, each with a building ranging from 12,000 to 18,000 square feet. The entire property is just under six acres.
Bond said the parcels could be further divided into commercial, retail and light industrial space with leasing or sale costs based on renovation requirements. It will be done in phases with plans by Westall Architects and will include landscaping along Union Street (Route 2).
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Its nice to see that the building will be renovated and hopefully occupied. The only purpose this property has been providing up to this point is people trespassing while illegally parking their cars there while they visit the scum bars. Keep up the good work Scarfoni and tow them all.
less parking. Look at the plans. Landscaping replaces a lot of existing parking. Once businesses are in there they aren't going to want crystal hardhat clients filling their spots. It should look nice when complete.
You have to understand that under Alcombright there are no rules. What he and his clone Bond don't understand is that the Historical group has to approve any demolition or improvements for a building on the historical register. Maybe someone can ask Mr. Bond and Scarfoni if they did due dilegence, HA, HA. Maybe he will get another tax deal from the city too, what a joke.
Editor: The dealership to my knowledge is not on the historic register. That property was divided 70 years ago. Scarafoni is working with the Building Department and I would imagine they would know. There is a process and rules to follow you know. But perhaps you are expert in this area and can help them out. I Agree (7) - I Disagree (1)
Give me a break! You want to talk about not having "rules" re: construction/renovations??? Let's talk about Barrett's absolutely HORRENDOUS decisions that we'll be living with for decades. He approved the facade changes on the L-shaped plaza on Main Street...I wondered for years when that primed/gray section was going to be painted until I found out that's the finished result. The original plans were quite a bit nicer, not to mention the fact that when you exit the Holiday Inn the first thing you see are frosted windows with shadows of stacked mattresses on the other side and some balloon printed wrapping paper covering the windows of the shop next door. The city should require that those windows either be dressed out (makes sense...it would possibly draw people in vs. repelling them) or at least covered up more professionally.
Then...there's Barrett's idea of hiring an engineering firm (vs. an architectural or landscape design firm) to build the War Memorial at Eagle St. and Rt. 2. It could have been a really beautiful memorial, but instead it's a barrier wall facing out that pretty much says (Here is North Adams...stay out). It could have been much more welcoming.
If you're talking about the North Adams historic committee it's a big joke...there need to be more restrictions on the books that require work done on these many beautiful buildings to either have a neutral impact on the original architecture or be inline with the existing architecture...not stripping what's there.
Mayor Alcombright puts some very talented people (most with vision and foresight) around him ...Barrett simply put people around him that did his bidding and if anyone had an idea he'd scoff at it or steal it and claim it as his own.
Actually, unfortunately the historic designation does not prevent anyone from doing anything to the buildings on the register (even if it were). There is currently no policing of the historic district which is why I watched some numb-sculls knocking the brackets off of an old victorian on church street (which is on the state AND national historic register) to put up vinyl siding. And yup - it was a multi-unit rental. The city could put in place a commission to police the historic districts but it would be unpopular with the slumlords who don't want to invest.
Does the city even have a historic district commission? If so, they are supposed to approve or decline architectural changes within the district according to mass general law (though this building isn't in the district):
Section 6. Except as the ordinance or by-law may otherwise provide in accordance with section eight or said section eight or nine, no building or structure within an historic district shall be constructed or altered in any way that affects exterior architectural features unless the commission shall first have issued a certificate of appropriateness, a certificate of non-applicability or a certificate of hardship with respect to such construction or alteration.
Any person who desires to obtain a certificate from the commission shall file with the commission an application for a certificate of appropriateness, a certificate of non-applicability or a certificate of hardship, as the case may be, in such form as the commission may reasonably determine, together with such plans, elevations, specifications, material and other information, including in the case of demolition or removal a statement of the proposed condition and appearance of the property thereafter, as may be reasonably deemed necessary by the commission to enable it to make a determination on the application.
No building permit for construction of a building or structure or for alteration of an exterior architectural feature within an historic district and no demolition permit for demolition or removal of a building or structure within an historic district shall be issued by a city or town or any department thereof until the certificate required by this section has been issued by the commission.
There is a historic commission according to the city website but if you look through the calendar, it looks like they only met once in the last year and the agenda didn't have anything about certificate issuance:
April 25, 2011
Meetings & Notices:
Introduction of new Commission Members
Distribution of materials
Discussion of Lue Gim Gog Memorial
I'm guessing that the committee was formed when they established the historic district and has since lost sight of how the commission is supposed to work (protecting the historic integrity of the city's historic district by reviewing and approving certificate applications)... They would have to meet at least monthly in order to not slow down work permitting.
Editor: I do not believe there is a historic district over which the commission has jurisdiction. It has provided input in the past on buildings, such as when the council was looking at demolishing a handful of buildings a few years ago. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (3)
I am pretty sure there are a number of historic districts in north Adams and I am positive that the Church St / Cady Hill district is recognized locally, at the state level and on the national register. According to the city website's guide to permitting, the historic commission is responsible for approving projects in those districts but I am not aware of them being involved as the document and mass general law describes: http://www.northadams-ma.gov/UserFiles/Image/Business_Permitting%20Guide_Web.pdf
Editor: That term "many historical districts" is pretty vague, isn't it? I Agree (0) - I Disagree (5)
Yeah, if someone buys a property and puts up vinyl siding so they don't have to paint it every year that's there choice.
What should they do? Should they fill it with antiques, remove the interior plumbing and build an outhouse so its "historic"? Wouldn't you rather have these houses survive into a new age than be all original and crumbling?
Do you know how many "historic" properties there are in this city? Some of you want a formal review issued every time someone washes a window.
Editor - the historic districts in NA are recognized by both the state and the US department of the interior. It actually took a lot of work to get them listed (work done by an MCLA team in the 70s/80s). The library has the massive binders of documentation - a national register listing requires proof of a number of types of historical significance for a district. The districts are also eligible for fed and state grants but if the nearsighted attitude of the above poster is representative, lets go ahead and let one of the city's most important assets get turned into nothing more than section 8 tenements. (if people would bother to read they would see that there is a hardship application in the commission guidelines for those who can't afford historically appropriate renovations). As far as I'm concerned it's a trade off - renovations might be more expensive but property values are higher in historic districts because of it. Nobody forced me to buy a historic house in a historic district... Plenty in NA are not.
Yea there are a lot of historic buildings in the city but the comisssion only has jurisdiction over the historic districts which have well defined boundaries and represent the areas with the most visible, highest concentrations of historic architecture. The commission has no control of your furnishings (duh) or pretty much anything else inside. Really it is a facade only protection. Even vinyl siding isnt a problem if the facade maintains the original appearance (there are good and bad examples of siding).
Editor: I know in some cases historical districts can be very strict. They can determine not only the type of siding but the colors as well. I Agree (2) - I Disagree (0)
me too, hello I know the comission (or maybe you prefer comisssion) can't stop you from shopping at Target; I was taking it to the ridiculous extreme all the creepy antique fetishists out there would adore. Thanks for explaining though.
Tammy - you might have a story here re: the historic commission. Check out the Historic District Commission website for Wayland MA. That combined with the permitting guide on the NA city website and the state regulations leads me to think someone is really dropping the ball here and has been for some time!
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