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Excelsior Brings Greeting Card Co. To North Adams
By: Andy McKeever On: 05:22PM / Tuesday February 01, 2011
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Photo courtesy of Excelsior   
Oatmeal Studios' owners Joe and Helene Massimino sold the Vermont company to Excelsior. To the right is new owner David Crane with new General Manager Joseph Gallagher.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Excelsior Printing Co. will bring its newly acquired business to the city.

The Roberts Drive printing company announced Tuesday that it purchased Oatmeal Studios of Rochester, Vt., and will bring the inventory and warehousing to the city, which could translate into local jobs.

"The founders wanted to retire. We were in negotiations for about a month and finalized the deal last week," Julianne Fruscio, Excelsior's business development and marketing coordinator, said on Tuesday.

Excelsior has been printing Oatmeal Studios' greeting cards for more than 20 years. Oatmeal's sales team will be offered positions first and unfilled jobs could be filled locally. Additionally, Excelsior hired Joseph Gallagher to be the general manager to develop even more products and expand into other markets.

"We're really hoping to develop the brand Oatmeal more," Fruscio said. "It's a new direction for us because we are now specializing in greeting cards."

Though Excelsior has the ability to do its own design work, it will continue using Oatmeal's database of freelancers to design the cards. Oatmeal also accepts submissions on a daily basis, Fruscio said.

Oatmeal Studios was founded by Helene and Joe Massimino and has been creating and distributing greeting cards and notepads for more than 30 years. The greeting cards are printed with vegetable-based inks on recycled paper. 

"We think it's a great fit," said Joe Massimino in a press release. "Excelsior has been a part of Oatmeal Studios almost from the beginning and they have a stationery pedigree of their own that will serve Oatmeal Studios’ customers well into the future."

In 2005, Excelsior separated from Crane & Co. and, in 2008, made a similar acquisition of SeedPrint. Excelsior now prints and ships seed packages while doing minimal design work.

Crane purchased the Excelsior companies — Excelsior Printing and Excelsior Process & Engraving — in 1970. Crane moved Excelsior Process & Engraving to the Robert Hardman Industrial Park in 1985 and then announced that it will close the Curran Highway location last year.

Excelsior Printing Co. on Roberts Drive was purchased by David W. Crane in 2005.



Tags: North Adams, Excelsior, Oatmeal Design, Crane, greeting cards      
North Adams Walmart Project Passes MEPA
By: Staff Reports On: 10:02AM / Wednesday January 26, 2011
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on Friday cleared the way for the Walmart Supercenter to move forward.

New Secretary of Energy Richard K. Sullivan signed off on the project's environmental impact report, saying it "adequately ad properly complies" with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.

The 157,000 square-foot store will be built on the city's old gravel bank at the intersection of Hodges Cross Road and Curran Memorial Highway. The property is in an industrial zone and consists of 26.7 acres. It will include two points of access, including a reconfiguration of the current jug handle at the Route 8 intersection.

The project will alter 21 acres, creating 12.2 acres of "impervious surface" and 701 parking spots.

The store has received its permits from both the city Planning Board and Conservation Commission; it still needs a federal permit for pollutant discharge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It's expected to discharge more than 10,000 gallons of waste water a day into Adams waste-water treatment plant to the south.

The developers have been grading the site and addressing prior wetlands violations and waste dumping on the property.

In his decision, posted below, Sullivan urged the company to further invest in clean technology.

"While I am pleased with the progress and impact it will have on the energy use and GHG emissions at the proposed North Adams store, I continue to urge Walmart to make a significant commitment to sustainability and the burgeoning solar industry in Massachusetts by incorporating solar PV into new buildings such as this one."

Construction is expected to take from 15 to 18 months, putting the store's opening sometime in the late summer of fall of 2012.

Walmart MEPA Certificate



Tags: Walmart, North Adams      
Carbone Dealership Empties Lot
By: Andy McKeever On: 03:45AM / Saturday January 08, 2011
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 NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — All the cars at Carbone Ford-Mercury on Route 2 should be gone by the end of the weekend.

On Friday, staff began driving the vehicles to a brand-new $4 million location in Bennington, Vt., which will open on Monday. Carbone Auto Group purchased the former Haddad dealership about two years ago and constructed the new location adjacent to its current Toyota lot on North Bennington Road.

"We are moving cars as we speak," said Michael Larochelle, a sales associate for Carbone, on Friday. "We should be completely out this weekend."

Carbone Ford-Mercury is the latest Berkshire County dealership to close. The dealership will reopen in Vermont.

Closing the State Road location has been in the works for about three years. In 2008, Carbone purchased the dealership from Haddad Motors with the plan of moving it to Bennington. The company was expecting construction to last shortly more than a year.

Construction on the new 27,000-square-foot showroom began in April and was not expected to be complete until the spring 2011. Ahead of schedule, the dealership will have a soft opening on Monday.

"It's a brand-new location. I think I heard it cost $4 million," Larochelle said. "I assume they'll do some type of grand opening."

New car dealerships have continued to leave the county, or consolidate. North County is now down to three new-car dealerships — K&M Toyota in North Adams, McAndrews-King GMC in Adams and the massive Bedard Brothers Auto Sales in Cheshire.

In 2007, Bedard Brothers Auto Sales purchased and consolidated Gateway, formerly known as Shapiro Chevrolet, on Union Street. That dealership was added to the company's Cheshire location. In 2009, Berkshire GMC in Sheffield closed when GMC closed 1,100 of its dealerships.

The dealership at 179 State Road was known for years as Dick Scarafoni Ford and later as Calgary Motors. Carbone's consolidation leaves another large, empty commercial property in the city. The former Gateway site still has not found new tenants although it is being used for leasing vehicle storage space. Both locations are owned by Scarafoni Associates.



Tags: North Adams, Dealership, Closing      
Gramercy Moving to MoCA
By: Tammy Daniels On: 04:25PM / Friday December 04, 2009
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Tiny Gramercy Bistro is expanding its operation with a move to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art campus on Feb. 1.

The Marshall Street eatery has signed a lease to take over the dining room and catering kitchen in Building 11. The space was occupied by Mezze Inc.'s Cafe Latino for a number of years before closing at the end of its lease agreement in September. Cafe Latino was the second restaurant Mezze had at Mass MoCA, after the high-concept 11 did poorly. A ice cream and sandwich cafe LIckety Split is located inside the main museum building.

"We really look forward to growing our business at MASS MoCA," said chef and owner Sandy Smith. "The new space will nearly double our seating capacity and allow us to significantly expand our catering reach.  We'll expand our hours of operation to offer not just dinner but also lunch and brunch. We are very excited about the new possibilities."

Gramercy Bistro opened at 24 Marshall in 2001 and has steadily grown since.

"We're pleased that Gramercy Bistro, having decided to grow, chose Mass MoCA as the site for its expansion. Gramercy is a fantastic restaurant and great contributor to the vitality of North Adams. The benefits are many: the campus will have a high-quality and well-seasoned restaurant operator, and Gramercy will be able to grow and provide the opportunity for a new venture to take root on Marshall Street," said Mass MoCA Executive Director Joseph C. Thompson.

Smith said he intends to begin renovations on the space immediately and open it to the public around Feb. 1. The current location will remain until the move occurs. He doesn't think the Marshall Street location will be empty for long.

"It's a great location right between the downtown, the hotels, and the museum, and has served us well for years. We see this as a great chance for a qualified restaurateur to add a little more flavor to the downtown dining scene," he said. "If someone great comes along, we'd be happy to transfer the Marshall Street lease. And if not, we've got several new concepts of our own for that space that we could undertake ourselves, once we get the new Gramercy at Mass MoCA up and running."

"This announcement is not only beneficial to MASS MoCA but also to the entire North Adams dining community," said Mayor John Barrett. "Sandy Smith is recognized as running one of the premier restaurants in Northern Berkshire County. Equally important is his catering expertise, which he can grow with the larger kitchen and prep spaces that this move will afford." 

Mayor John Barrett III said he was concerned about losing a downtown restaurant "but I was reassured by Sandy that he would either secure a new operation at the restaurant's current site on Marshall Street or open a new type of restaurant in that space."

The new Gramercy Bistro will be open for lunch and dinner, six days a week (closed Tuesdays), and will be open seven days a week in July and August.



Tags: North Adams, Gramercy, Mass MoCA      
Super Duper Wally World
By: Tammy Daniels On: 10:27PM / Tuesday November 24, 2009
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Word is a Walmart Supercenter is headed our way.  According to a report in the North Adams Transcript, the multinational retailer has filed plans at North Adams City Hall for a 160,000 square-foot building at the city's old gravel bank.

Ceruzzi Properties of Fairfield, Conn., acting as BVS 5401 Investors LLC, purchased the nearby Dellaghelfa properties at 1519 South State St. and West Road for about $2.2 million in 2007, the city's gravel pit for $700,000 in 2008, according to documents in the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds, and the former North Adams Plaza in 2004 for $2.5 million.

Nigro Development LLC of Albany, N.Y., had originally taken out a purchase-and-sales agreement for the gravel bank, then became a silent partner with what was then Starwood Ceruzzi to develop both the gravel and the plaza. Nigro is currently believed to be out of the picture.

A Lowe's is planned for the old North Adams Plaza that's been coming down piecemeal over the past few months. The Supercenter will include groceries, electronics and expanded lawn and garden departments.

No word on what will go in the old Walmart, but the discount chain has planned aggressive growth over the next two years despite the economic downturn. In October, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it would expand globally by 14 million square feet in this fiscal year and by 11 million next year.

Most of that will be through remodels and a focus on supercenters; the corporation expects to spend upwards of $25 billion (yes, BILLION) in capital construction over the next two years. 

The plans will go before the Planning Board on Dec. 14.



Tags: North Adams, Walmart      
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