Planners also approved two new businesses in Norad Mill and a new eatery on Marshall Street in the former Brew-HaHa.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Expressing deep concern about the lack of dedicated curbside parking, the Planning Board on Monday night approved the first phase of plans to turn a historic Eagle Street building into a boutique hotel.
The vote to give Michael Gazal and Veso Buntic of Long Island, N.Y., operating as Eagle Street Holding LLC, a special permit for a change of use to convert the building into a contemporary 27-room hotel was unanimous, but it came with one contingency: that the hotel be responsible for preventing guests from double-parking while checking in.
The current plans call for guests to park in the Center Street lot for the duration of their stay but to park temporarily on Eagle Street to unload luggage and check-in. Planners on Monday were very skeptical of the idea and in fact suggested the hotel consider an alternative: allowing guests to park in the back of the building, which is on Church Street where parking is more abundant.
"Eagle Street is congested," Chairman Michael Leary said, a concern echoed by Planner Brian Miksic, who brought up the idea of using the Church Street side of the building.
"It just seems to be a fairly easy method to deal with it," Miksic said, adding that he thought the plans were "phenomenal" and wanted to see the project succeed.
Because of the slope of the building, though, the sidewalk level of the Church Street side of the building will actually be the second floor of the hotel, making it difficult to place a lobby there.
"It's really not in our plan. It's intended to be our emergency exit," responded the representative for Eagle Street Holding.
The representative asked if it was possible to have an Eagle Street parking spot reserved for the hotel, and while Leary said that would have to be negotiated with the city he wasn't optimistic that would fly.
"I think other Eagle Street businesses would love to have that arrangement, too," he said.
In the end, the developer's representative he wasn't too concerned about it anyway, even with people toting luggage into the hotel from a larger distance.
"People have them on wheels these days," he said.
In other Planning Board business, planners approved an application by EZ Mart Foods of MA Inc., to change the ownership of the convenience store and gas station at 232 Ashland St. Two neighbors appeared before the board to express concern about lighting and snow removal, but approval was given with the condition that snow will be removed, not just plowed up against the fence on the property line.
Planners also approved two applications for businesses at 60 Roberts Drive: a new candy store called the Candy Mill and a record/CD store called Belltower Records. The candy store particularly sparked enthusiasm among the planners when it was presented by Dave Moresi of Moresi & Associates, which owns and is developing the Norad Mill.
"We're going to have a little fun and open a candy store," Moresi said. "North Adams needs a candy store. It's kind of sad when there's nowhere you can take a child and buy a pound of gumdrops."
Planners on Monday also rubber-stamped a change of tenant application for a restaurant at 20 Marshall St., a change of use application by MountainOne to operate an investment and insurance office at 85 Main St., extra signage for Dave's Package Store, a new sign for Northern Berkshire EMS, a new banner for Miner Combat and new signage for Greylock Bowl & Golf and Mingo's Restaurant.
The only other issue that planners pushed back on Monday was the request from Nite Owl Automotive at 54 River St., which had sought to double the number of cars allowed on the lot from nine to 18. Because the current owner has previously occasionally exceeded the limit, planners only allowed him an increase to 12 cars as a show of good faith with the understanding that if the facility went six months in compliance then the Planning Board would reconsider the increase to 18.
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