Jones Block Finally Set for Renovations

By Jen ThomasPrint Story | Email Story
A rendering by local artist Kent Mikalsen shows what the renovated Jones Block will look like.

ADAMS, Mass. — Nearly 10 years after fire destroyed portions of the second and third floors, the Jones Block finally has a new owner. On Wednesday, the town celebrated the transfer of the property, located at 49-51 Park St., to Samuel Adams Enterprises LLC.

The announcement marked the end of a long process to find a developer for the historic 112-year-old building, which the town purchased from MassDevelopment in 2005 for $1.

"This has been a long time coming for Adams and a lot of effort has gone into bringing the project to this point," said Town Administrator William Ketcham at the Town Hall ceremony.

Samuel Adams Enterprises, an entity formed under Polonia Development and Restoration Services of Astonia, N.Y., and headed by Gerardo "Gerry" Sanchez, intends to create three retail spaces on the ground floor of the building and six high-end apartments on the second and third floors.

"Sanchez demanded that the project has to be top shelf, top quality," said James Leitch of Williamstown-based Westall Architects, who is in charge of architectural design work for the project.

The completely renovated 16,000-square foot building will feature a new Park Street facade, a courtyard and what Leitch called a "metropolitan, upscale entrance."

The luxury apartments will also have amenities including hardwood floors, granite countertops, exposed brick walls and stainless steel appliances.

Another Big Announcement

With a longtime desire to utilize the abutting property at 39-45 Park St., called the Carlow Building, Sanchez also announced a second purchase on Wednesday.

"This morning, [Thomas and Noella Carlow] signed on the line and it is now definitely a two-building project," said Sanchez. Connected by the Firehouse Cafe, the two buildings will be an integral part of the revitalization of the downtown, according to town officials.

"Adams is the undiscovered gem of the Berkshires and these are two more gems," said Ketcham. "Everyone has something to gain from this project because it'll make the downtown more attractive."

"As a landmark structure with a prominent place in the downtown, [the project] marks the beginning of the transformation of Adams into a vibrant, thriving center," said Selectmen Chairman Joseph R. Dean Jr. Sanchez shared the town's vision for the renovations.

"The success is already established," said Sanchez. "I feel so motivated and this is why. For one, the buildings are beautiful and two, we want to do other projects in the city so we need to prove we are the right people. We won't let you down."

Sanchez plans to invest at least $2 million in the project and construction is expected to begin in spring 2008. The Jones Block property will take approximately six months to complete and the Carlow Building will take eight months, beginning after the first project is complete.

The town expects to begin construction on a parking lot behind the properties "in the meantime," according to Ketcham. Berkshires Visitors Bureau acting President and CEO Ray Smith attended the press conference and said he hopes the plans for the property include attractive retailers in the ground-level commercial space.

"If having new space will draw a new type of retailer to Adams, it could be a potential new force for the town, for Mr. Sanchez and for Berkshire County," Smith said. Sanchez, however, is taking everything one step at a time and is focusing primarily on the renovations. "This is going to be a success and it's going to be done quickly," he said.

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