Six Months Later: Adams Still Vexed With Jones Block Developer

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Town officials are frustrated by the lack of work on the Jones Block.
ADAMS, Mass. — The town is again looking to take action against the developers of the Jones Block.

According to Town Administrator Jonathan Butler, Polonia Restoration has again halted work at the Park Street building and stopped paying taxes. Butler asked the Selectmen to start plotting to "flex the town's muscles" to force the company to continue working.

"I was leery back in April when the developer said they had a plan for substantial completion by October because I've been looking at a vacant building for four years," Butler said. "I think it is time for the town to flex its muscles."

In March, the Selectmen publicly voiced frustration with the developer after it halt work and fell behind on  payments. Two years ago, the town leveraged a $1 million grant for exterior work and Polonia was to match those funds to renovate the interior into commercial and high-end apartments.

The company did enough work to close out its portion of the grant.

"The intent was to have commercial and residential property and four years later we have nothing," Butler said Wednesday night. "We've reached a point where it is time to move forward and aggressively.""

Polonia took ownership of the historic building in 2007 after winning the bid for the grant-funded project. The building was damaged in a 1996 fire and the town took the building 2005 for $1. Town officials later secured the $1 million Community Development Action Grant to upgrade the exterior.

The town initially fell short when it tried to sell the building until the owner of the adjacent building, Thomas Carlow, approached the town with the idea to couple his building with it — and Polonia purchased both buildings in 2007.

The grant money went into action in 2009 when the town renovated the facade and install a stairwell. With another grant the town re-paved the parking lot. In 2010, the town had completed its end of the bargain.

Polonia then got to work and installed installing an elevator shaft, putting up wallboard, upgrading plumbing and electrical and work in the Carlow building.

And then it stalled. When the town voiced frustration with the stalled work and a lack of communication, Gerry Sanchez, president of Polonia Restoration, sent an email outlining a schedule for the completion that called for the entire building to be renovated by the end of the year. Then the company paid taxes and work began again.

The town backed off until now, six months later, when officials are again seeking a plan to force the company to complete the work.

Butler said the continuous delays in restoration has slowed the town's revitalization movement. The town has spent a lot of effort into downtown revitalization on Park Street with multiple projects,  the most recent being the proposed streetscape project.

Tags: Jones Block,   

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