Adams' Jones Block Scheduled For Auction

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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A Park Street project town officials had hoped would be an economic catalyst is heading for the auction block.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Jones Block is set to go to auction.

Hoosac Bank is auctioning off at foreclosure the property and the adjacent building eyed as one of the keystones to the town's downtown revitalization. The auction is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 24, at 1 p.m.

The property has been the subject of scorn from town officials after private developer Polonia Restoration failed to complete the renovation as promised.

The town had leveraged $1 million in state funding to upgrade the exterior and the developer was expected to restore the interior. Polonia, operating as Samuel Adams Enterprises LLC, did enough work to hold up its end of the matching grant but the town was hoping for more.

Town officials said they had no knowledge ahead of time that Hoosac Bank was going to auction and did not want to comment on the situation until they had more information. Polonia owner Gerardo "Gerry" Sanchez did not return a call to his office on Friday.

Town Administrator Jonathan Butler said if the building is turned over to a developer who would finish the project, he'd be "happy to work with them." The town had been hoping to get Sanchez to finish the work but since his end of the bargain was upheld, there was little they could do.

The historic building was damaged by a 1996 fire and, in 2005, the town purchased the building at 49-51 Park St. from the state for $1. Officials attempted to sell the building then but found no purchasers. In 2008, Polonia bought the Jones Block for $100,000 as well as the adjacent building owned by Thomas Carlow for $480,000.

Sanchez at the time told the Selectmen that $2 million would be invested in the properties to create retail space and luxury apartments. "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," he said.

The sale was big news for town officials who saw their downtown languishing. Since then town officials have embarked on multiple restoration projects on Park Street.

Currently, the Mausert Block was privately renovated and has secured businesses to occupy storefronts, the town used its own funds to renovate the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds and the former Adams Theater was taken over by the Topia Arts Center. Now, the town is planning of a streetscape project and moving forward on renovations to the Adams Free Library.

The town's efforts on the Jones Block was completed in 2010 after using the state grant to install new doors, storefronts and walkways and with a second grant re-paved the rear parking lot.

The plan was moving forward when in 2010 Polonia installed an elevator shaft, wallboard and electrical and plumbing renovations. But by 2012, the work had halted leaving town officials wondering when, or if at all, the developer would turn the buildings into the booming commercial building they had hoped.

Burke Construction has a complaint on file in the Registry of Deeds claiming nearly $100,000 worth of work had not been paid; it is not clear if that account had been settled. Samuel Adams Enterprises has a mortgage for  $700,00 on the Jones Block and a $384,000 on the Carlow building, both taken out from Hoosac Bank in 2008.

Shortly after the Board of Selectmen voiced frustration with the work stoppage, Sanchez provide a plan to finish the work that called for full completion by the end of 2012. Six months later, work again halted.

Now, the storied history of the building may be taking another turn but for the good or ill is still unknown.

Tags: Jones Block,   

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