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Sue Bush
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Mohawk Theater Renovations Ready To Start Phase 1

By Jen Thomas
12:00AM / Monday, March 12, 2007

Phase 1 of the Mohawk Theater project is slated to begin within the next four to six months. [Photo by Jen Thomas]
North Adams – Mayor John Barrett III announced today that Phase 1 of the Mohawk Theater renovation project is poised to start, with construction of a stage house addition slated to begin during the upcoming 4-6 months.

“It’s basically taken us 15-16 years to get to this point, but we’re actually going to begin construction on the renovation of the Mohawk Theater,” Barrett said during a March 12 press conference.

Phase 1 of the project requires the demolition of the back wall of the theater and extending the stage area toward the Center Street parking lot.

Estimated Phase 1 Cost $3.2 Million


North Adams Mayor John Barrett III talked about the upcoming launch of the Mohawk Theater renovation during a March 12 press conference. [Photo by Jen Thomas]
“This will allow us to do a lot of things, including the additional stage area, dressing rooms, and set design,” Barrett said.

The estimated cost for this phase of the project is $3.2 million, and Barrett said he is hopeful the city will not have to borrow any funds to complete it.

“We have roughly $2 million to move ahead at this time,” he said.

“As for the remaining $1.2-1.5 million, I’m hopeful that the sale of the gravel bed site down on Curran Highway, which will generate approximately $750,000, will go towards that.”

Barrett also said that grants will aid in the funding of this first phase.

Seeing Is Believing

“We actually want to change the tangible things here - change the physical structure of the theatre so that people can see that something’s actually happening,” Barrett said.

As the project moves forward, Barrett said he hopes the visible differences in the building’s exterior serves a catalyst to generate renwed local theater renovation investment interest. Revenue is needed for the next two phases of the project.

“We have already secured $1.1 million, the maximum amount we can get from the state in historic tax credits,” Barrett said in reference to the funding of Phases 2 and 3. Those costs are estimated to exceed $4 million. The mayor also said the city plans to apply next week for project funding from federal agencies.

James Alexander, of Finegold Alexander and Associates, Inc., the architecture firm who is working with the city on the renovations, said he hopes to transform the upper floor into a combined community area and concession space.

Also in the plans is a revitalization of the Main Street side of the building, including relighting the famous marquee. The finished theater will boast almost 1,000 seats in the house and almost 300 seats in the balcony. Pictures shown at the conference illustrated what both the interior and exterior would look like when the project is completed.

Barrett has long held the Mohawk Theater as a vital component of ongoing downtown improvements.

Rendition of the Mohawk Theater's interior after renovations are completed. Inset shows pre-project appearance. [Photo by Jen Thomas]


“This addition bodes well for the downtown,” the mayor said and emphasized that Eagle Street property owners must contribute to the success of the area.

Once property owner investment is made, Barrett said, “[the city's]downtown will be second to none.”

Will Not Eclipse MoCA

The mayor was quick to note, however, that he does not intend to create another venue like the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

“The catalyst driving our economy is Mass MoCA,” he said.

Because the museum offers space for performing arts, the Mohawk Theater will not specialize in performances. Barrett explained that the theater would be used mostly for special events and would not need seasonal operation.

“It’s still a theater, not a performance space,” Alexander said.

He mentioned about including a movie component into the theater’s operation, suggesting a classic film series as one option.

“It’s another burst of enthusiasm on the scene,” said City Council President Gailanne Cariddi. “It’s one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle, and we’re moving full steam ahead.”

"We Want To Get It Under Construction This Year"

It will take 3-5 years to complete the project, but Barrett hopes to see some change soon.

“The mayor is anxious to be done with this phase in two years,” said Alexander.

“We’re just under time constraints,” said Barrett.

He noted that this announcement had no connection to the recently announced “Berkshire Blueprint,” which failed to mention North County.

“We just want to get it under construction this year,” he said.

Jen Thomas is a senior student at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a correspondent for iberkshires.com.
Your Comments
Post Comment
"...would be used mostly for special events and would not need seasonal operation..."
So let me see if I have this right, yet another space in North Adams that will remain unused for the most part?
from: Mikeon: 11-10 00:00:00-2008

Glad to see the progress but why does everything in the city have to stay smaller than mass moca?
from: Jimon: 03-15 00:00:00-2007

Special events, such as? Movies Y/N?
from: D. Demingon: 03-14 00:00:00-2007


 
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