The Historic Commission attempted to save the structure by enacting a demolition delay three years ago.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The building at 11-15 Furnace St. was demolished Friday, nearly three years after the city first sought to take down the vacant structure.
The apartment building was one of several given the thumbs up for razing by the Historical Commission last month. The commission in 2014 twice voted against taking down the building, hoping that it could be saved.
"Those two buildings are in every old photo of North Adams taken looking that way," commission Chairwoman Justyna Carlson said at a meeting in late June. "We said no the first time, we gave it the demolition delay for over a year but no one could come up with a use for it."
The 3,500-square foot residential building and the adjacent one at 6 West Main St. are similar in structure and date back more than a century. Both properties are owned by the Redevelopment Authority, and the West Main structure had been used for years by the School Department and now hosts the Tapestry needle-exchange program.
The commission was asked to approve the demolition in 2014 at the request of Greylock Market LLC, which at the time was in the process of negotiating a deal with the authority to operate Western Gateway Heritage State Park.
Since both buildings sit along the footpath that links West Main and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art to the park, the commission was hopeful the park developers would find a use for the building or it could be developed privately for housing or retail, according to the city's master plan. Commissioners twice in four months voted for a one-year demolition delay as allowed by ordinance.
Since then, the Greylock Market deal collapsed and the Furnace Street building has remained empty and vandalized. With the year's demolition delay long past, the commission ratified that the building could come down.
Bids for its demolition went out in May, with an expected cost of $77,000 including asbestos abatement.
The commissioners also affirmed or approved for demolition were garages and barns at 179 and 638 Ashland St. They are two of seven buildings that inspection services cited for imminent structural failure, and the only ones who notified they commission by the time of the June meeting.
The house at 154-156 Protection Ave. had already been razed. The city purchased the property on the sharp corner before Alcombright Athletic Complex in 2012 for $12,500. The City Council in April approved spending $20,000 in free cash to match $20,000 a state grant to remove at as a safety hazard and to allow for more parking.
The gas station in Brayonville also is already down. The property has been cleaned out over the past year by owner O'Connell Oil Associates after it failed to sell at auction. Also already down was 137 Mohawk Trail, removed to make way for the new Cumberland Farms.
A house at 23 Arnold Place was re-affirmed for removal, as was 45 Edgewood, first approved in 2014 and recently declared a public nuisance by the City Council. A garage at 27 Walnut St. and the garage at the Tourists development at 861 State Road were also approved, along with 306 Union St.
The commission was somewhat reluctant to OK the Union Street building but it is in very poor condition.
Carlson said she had spoken to the residents in the nearby Eclipse Mill about possible ideas for the large, multi-family house but no one was interested. The building has been empty and up for sale for years.
"It's gotten rundown," she said. "It was broken up in many apartments over the years and is not in good ship."
The commission also reviewed preparations for the 270th anniversary of the rebuilding of Fort Massachusetts; progress on survey grants; the removal of historic signs from the City Yard, which is for sale; concerns over 111 River St., the former Sun Cleaners, parts of which date to 1865, that the city may take from Housing Opportunities Inc.; and the status of the Tourist Booth, which is at the Windsor Mill, which is also for sale.
Carlson also expressed frustration over the lack of progress by the Local Historic District Study Committee, which has lost members and has not met since last year. The commission had backed the creation of the committee in hopes of getting districts established to help preserve the city's historic buildings and provide homeowners access to resources to maintain them.
"We cannot get a fire under that to get it going, it is so badly needed right now," she said.
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