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David Moresi of Moresi & Associates explains the plans to develop working studio space at the Blackinton Mill at Monday nights Planning Board meeting.

North Adams Planners OK New Plans at Blackinton Mill

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The Planning Board approved working studio space, a new restaurant and an organic clothing store at Monday's meeting.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The owners of the historic Blackinton Mill are planning to develop eight working studios along Massachusetts Avenue, but say that's not an indication artists' lofts are out.

David Moresi of Moresi & Associates, representing owner Magid Mill Inc., told the Planning Board on Monday night that the vision for residential rentals that was approved last year will go forward.

"He's very much committed to making that residential aspect happen there," Moresi said, noting he speaks to the owners on nearly a daily basis. The company, in fact, recently signed a 99-year lease with the city to use the remediated land on the west side of the property as the main entrance to the building.

Meanwhile, the developers are looking to increase revenue by renovating the single-story wing along the street into 1,000 square foot units.

Moresi said there is already several parties interested in leasing the spaces as working studios. Some of the plywood that's covered the windows along the building since the 1980s has been removed to evaluate the next step. He said he was meeting with a window vendor on Tuesday to review the choices, which will have to take into account the windows' close proximity to the street. 

"We want to make it almost like a storefront facade ... something that has great street exposure," said Moresi, adding that the massive mill "is a work in progress. It's quite a project down there."

The board unanimously approved the special permit for the changes in an industrial zone, but not before questioning the window placement and the historic nature of the building.

"I don't know what about those windows is bothering me," said Vice Chairman Paul Hopkins, who wanted to confirm that board would be updated on the facade changes. Several others wondered if the exterior changes would have to be reviewed.

The design for the handmade sign being planned for Head Eaze, an organic clothing store opening on Eagle Street.

Alan Marden, a city councilor who was attending with another applicant, said the building is historic because it falls within the Blackinton Historic District. Building Inspector William Meranti said there was no mechanism for historic review because the building was privately owned and using private funds.

Moresi said the initial work would be in the interior and did not anticipate any significant changes to the facade until next year, at which time the board would be presented with architectural renderings.

The mill was purchased in 2010 by the Magid brothers; their initial proposal for a commercial/studio/luxury  development has been tweaked by the market to a more work/studio/residential rental endeavor with the leasing of a large section of the mill to the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Approval was also given Monday for two food establishments on Ashland Street, one a smoothie and health food operation, the other a new coffeehouse in the the former Elf Parlor on Ashland Street.

Renee Tassone, appearing before the Redevelopment Authority prior to the planning meeting, said her operation at 14 Ashland St. would offer fruit smoothies, protein shakes, gluten-free products and other healthy living foods. Tassone also planned to sell pre-made meals (made at her home) on the premises and have three or four tables. Her business was approved on the condition she work with the Office of Community Development on signage.

Jason Morin, who operates a website design service, was given the go-ahead to reopen the restaurant at 303 Ashland St., formerly known as the Elf Parlor. "It will be pretty much the same thing that was done there before but we'll have baked goods made on site," said Morin. He planned to apply for a beer and wine license.

In othe business:

• Nicole McCorkindale was approved for Head Ease, a retail clothing store at 28 Eagle St., the former Claire's Photo Supply. McCorkindale said her products would be clothing made from natural fibers such as hemp, natural body products, handmade glass jewelry and related items.

• Melissa Bryce was approved for professional office space at 10 Holden St. for At Home TLC Inc., a personal and nursing care service. Bryce said she had been operating out of her home for five years but needed space for two office employees and herself, and for more exposure.

• Also approved: a plan by Walmart to relocate pin oaks in its landscaping plan to prevent future problems with utility wires; the updating of a MountainOne Financial Partners automated-teller machine at 73 Main St. to conform with new ADA guidelines (voice activated); and a sign for Steeple Valley Dance at 195 Ashland St.

Tags: artists studios,   Blackinton Mill,   Planning Board,   

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