|Bernard Asking That Johnson School Be Declared Surplus|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
01:11AM / Monday, September 09, 2019
|The mayor is asking Johnson School be declared surplus so it can be sold. |
The single-family home at 367 Houghton St. was acquired with the assets of Housing Opportunities Inc.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The mayor will ask the City Council on Tuesday to add two more properties to the list of municipal properties for sale.
The single-family home at 367 Houghton St. was turned over to the city recently as part of the assets of Housing Opportunities Inc. but Johnson School dates back nearly a century and quarter and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The brick Romanesque Revival neighborhood school was constructed on School Street in 1896 and was enlarged in the rear in 1924. It was designed by Edwin Thayer Barlow, a notable local architect who also designed the Boardman building on Montana Street, the Dowlin Block on Main Street and St. Patrick's Church in Williamstown, as well as one of the first skyscrapers in New York City.
The school was built during a time when the city's had a growing population of young people. According an 1898 edition of the former North Adams Transcript, the district's enrollment had surged from 200 to 325 in just over a year. The original school was built at a cost of about $50,000 to house 400 children.
It was closed in the mid-1990s and was used for some of the school district's alternative programs and preschool and for Berkshire County Head Start. Head Start's lease is expiring next year.
Declaring the property surplus "will enable the city to solicit redevelopment proposals for this property, with the goal of closing the sale on Aug. 1, 2020, concurrent with the voluntary conclusion of the current lease on the property," writes Mayor Thomas Bernard in his communique to the council.
The building is contains about 33,000 square feet including the basement and is assessed at $914,300.
The Houghton Street home has been vacant for a few years. It was part of the Housing Opportunities for first-time home-buyers operated through the North Adams Housing Authority. HOI is in the process of transferring its assets to the city so it can dissolve.
The four-bedroom home dates to 1870 and was remodeled in 2004 with Community Development Block Grant funds and sold through the city's defunct Own Your Own Home program. It was foreclosed and has been empty since 2014.
In a letter to the mayor, Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie said he and Assessor Ross Vivori had toured the property and found it in fair condition but "in need of moderate repairs." They set the value at $70,000, below the last assessment of $127,000. Any proceeds would return to the city's CDBG account.
"In addition, we recommend that any RFP state a strong preference for a buyer who plans
to own, renovate, and occupy the property as their primary residence, rather than as a permanent
or short-term rental," writes Nuvallie.
The past two administrations have endeavored to divest the city of surplus properties with limited results. Of the five or six properties for sale, only one — for the old city yard on Ashland Street — has had a completed purchase. The administration also expects to solicit requests for the Mohawk Theater.
Also on the City Council's agenda are several appointments, two proclamations and a request for a $3,000 transfer from the Tinker Fund.