North Adams Restaurant Gains Approval With Addition of Parking
Executive Chef Cortney Burns and Eric Kerns, a partner in Tourists, had appeared before the board in September seeking approval of the transformation of the former Our Lady of Incarnation Church into a farm-to-table restaurant for the resort. The plans, however, did not include parking and the proposal was delayed until a variance could be obtained or a new plan submitted.
On Monday, the board gave the OK to a parking lot with spaces for 20 cars that will be located behind the church near the old ballfield and will be accessed by Amidon Road, which is east of the church. Two more parking spaces will be created at the front of the building for handicapped access.
Patrons of Tourists will also be able to cross the Hoosic River on the suspension bridge installed last year to walk to the restaurant.
The approval gives the green light for Burns, an award-winning chef who moved to the Berkshires last year from San Francisco, to begin building a restaurant based on local produce and immigrant history.
"We feel grateful to be able work in this space," she'd told the board last month. "Since I moved here in April 2017, I've looked at the immigration patterns of the area ... who was living here in this year and what they were doing here ... I want to create dishes that are based in the history of this land. ...
"It's about creating something that all of us can enjoy."
William Girard bought the property at 1288 Mass Ave. in 2007 from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield as it began closing and divesting itself of church buildings. It's housed a number of enterprises, including a theater and a gymnastics training center.
Built around the turn of the last century, the structure was initially a temperance hall and later converted into a church. Kerns said the steeple, added later in the last century, will be removed and a number of renovations will be done to the exterior to bring it closer to its original appearance and in line with the historical nature of Blackinton Village.
"There's a wonderful aspect of this building from the south," he said. "You can't see any built environment to south between you and Mount Williams ... There's this incredible view. You're pretty much in the middle of nowhere."
That vision of a natural world in the midst of the city is the theme for Tourists, which started as the renovation of a dated motor court but has turned into a more expansive resort as the developers continued to add on properties between State Road and Massachusetts Avenue.
A restaurant had been planned adjacent to the motel on State Road but complications of siting it near the Hoosic River, which runs between the properties, led the group to look toward Blackinton, where it has been buying up properties including the Blackinton Mill.
Burns also plans a small farm and garden to provide produce for the restaurant on a section of the ballfield.
The application last month hadn't included parking because there is parking along the road that's been used for decades for the church and the businesses that had followed in it. But the board members weren't convinced that a busy restaurant was the same as what had come before.
"A church is open once a week for an hour and a half," Chairman Michael Leary had responded. "Your restaurant is going to be open morning, noon and night ... If I lived there I would think parking is a pretty big issue. You have neighbors that use that parking as well."
There had initially been discussion of going to Zoning Board of Appeals for approval of an offsite parking lot but Kerns and Burns returned with new plans. Since the proposed parking lot is within 200 feet of the building, a variance was not required.
The restaurant, Black Loom LLC, is a division of Blackinton Partners LLC.
The board also approved a special permit for At Home TLC Inc. to operate a professional business office in the Norad Mill at 60 Roberts Drive. This application had also been continued from September because the owner had not been in attendance to answer any questions.
Tags: church reuse, Planning Board, restaurants,
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