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Transcript Building Sale Gets Final OK

Tammy Daniels

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Redevelopment Authority on Monday night swiftly approved the relocation of the Brien Center to the building now occupied by the North Adams Transcript at 124 American Legion Drive.

The three-man board has jurisdiction over a group of properties on the south side of Main Street including the former Kmart property.

The board had expected to meet on May 9 prior to the Planning Board but did not have a quorum.

The approval was a bit pro forma — the City Council has already approved a tax incentive agreement for Scarafoni Associates, which will purchase the property and invest $1 million into it and then lease it to the nonprofit Brien Center. The TIF requires the property to stay on the tax rolls for the next decade, netting about $21,000 a year for the city.

Mayor Richard Alcombright said he'd spoken with Brien Center's Executive Director Catherine A. Doherty months ago on how to keep the center's services in the city once its lease ran out on the Marshall Street building it currently occupies.

"We worked very hard together to make sure the Brien Center stayed in the city of North Adams because it provides a very important service for many clients in the community, and also that we were able to maintain them here because of the jobs that they provide," said the mayor.

The center employs 60 to 65 people full and part time; added to that will be the 10-member staff of the Adult Day Center, which will also move into the 16,000-square-foot Transcript building.

The deal maintains the building, the jobs in the downtown and ensures the city a quarter of a million dollars in tax revenue over the next decade, the mayor said.

Authority Chairman Paul Hopkins asked David Carver of Scarafoni Associates if the Transcript was expected to stay in the downtown area. Carver said yes and that he had approached the newspaper's management about what they would need for space when the building went up for sale two years ago.

Alcombright said having staff from the 170-year-old newspaper on Main Street was a good thing. "I think to have a daily in a community this size sends a strong message about who we are," said the mayor, comparing the paper to the hospital, college and airport.

"They understand the importance of that history so they are focusing on one of the spots on Main Street," said Carver.

Signage is the responsibility of the Brien Center and will be provided at a later date. Carver said he expected it would be similar to the logo used at its other locations.

The City Council actually approved the TIF agreement twice after MassDevelopment suggested minor changes to the language. The council also OK'd an application to designate the Transcript property as part of a economic opportunity area for the next 20 years to allow Scarafoni to apply for state incentives.

The TIF, MassDevelopment application and related documents can be found below.

Scarafoni_Transcript Applications & Agreement

Tags: Transcript, Scarafoni, Brien Center      

Scarafoni Asks for Tax Deal on Transcript Building

Tammy Daniels

Scarafoni Associates plans to purchase the Transcript property and renovate for use by the Brien Center.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council will be asked to approve a tax incentive that will allow the Brien Center to move into the North Adams Transcript building while keeping the building on the tax rolls for 10 years.

Scarafoni Associates plans to buy the 16,000 square-foot building on American Legion Drive and lease it to the nonprofit Brien Center. David Carver of Scarafoni Associates told the Finance Committee on Tuesday that the 10-year agreement may be critical to loosening up bank financing for the project.

"We think this TIF agreement is a big piece of making this work ... which will release probably $1 million in construction and repairs, something we need to see more of in the downtown," said Carver. "This type of project and this type of financing will make the numbers work for bankers."

Mayor Richard Alcombright said the tax increment financing agreement would lock in the property's current assessment $767,000, guaranteeing property taxes of more than $20,000 annually for the next decade despite the Brien Center's status as a nonprofit.

Coldwell Banker lists the taxes as $21,197.

Chairman Michael Bloom noted the current unpredictability of the commercial market. "This is an amazing agreement."

That will provide the stability for both entities to make the project work, said Carver. "We are buying the building for less than the assessed value," he said. "So instead of petitioning for [the assessed value to be the] purchase price ... we have agreed as part of this process to lock in that current assessed value."

David Carver explains to the Finance Committee how the TIF agreement would work.

"I think it's a great solution for the city ... it retains the Brien Center in the city and the jobs and services they provide," said the mayor. If the Brien Center, which provides mental health and substance abuse services to some 10,000 people in Berkshire County, purchased the building, it would fall off the tax rolls completely.

TIFs once required job production but the state changed the law last year to take into account job retention.

The Brien Center, cited as the ninth-largest employer in the county recently by The Berkshire Eagle, employs 40 full-time and 20 part-time employees at its offices on Marshall Street. Catherine A. Doherty, chief executive officer, said the agency's lease on Marshall Street is up in August; moving to Ashland Street will allow the organization to stay in the downtown and not only retain programs but expand them.

"Once we our positioned into this new building we will be able to think about adding more programs," she said. "It's a building that speaks more to what we do."

She cited the property's easy access, single-story construction and spaciousness that will offer room for more programs for the 3,000 to 4,000 North County residents the agency serves. It will also provide space for the Adult Day Health Program, which will move from the former Department of Motor Vehicles building along with its 10 employees.

Alcombright said the city solicitor had reviewed the agreement. Carver's attorney, Elisabeth Goodman, on questions from the committee, said the agreement would remain in effect should the Brien Center purchase the property because it signing on to the deal. It could be broken, she said, if the Brien Center reneged on the lease.

The 45-year-old Transcript building was placed on the market nearly two years ago for nearly $1 million; it has sinced been reduced to $799,000. The presses were removed; printing and most of the support staff operate out of The Eagle in Pittsfield.

The city had eyed the property as a potential site for a new public safety building but its current fiscal problems have put that project on hold.

Tags: Transcript, Scarafoni, Brien Center      
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Returned Papers
As of 8/9 at 5 p.m.
 Lisa M. Blackmer* Yes
 Michael Bloom Yes
 Keith Bona* Yes
 David Bond* Yes
 Marie Harpin* Yes
 Alan Marden* Yes
 John Barrett Yes
 Eric R. Buddington Yes
 Nancy P. Bullett Yes
 Robert Cardimino Yes
 Catherine Chaput Yes
 Roland G. Gardner  
 Diane M. Gallese-Parsons  Yes
Shane Gaudreau  
 James B. Gyurasz  Yes
 Michael Hernandez  Yes
 Jennifer Breen Kirsch  Yes
Brian L. Flagg  
 Kellie A. Morrison  Yes
 Greg Roach  Yes
 Gail Kolis Sellers  Yes
18 candidates returned papers
 
 Mayor  
 Richard J. Alcombright*  Yes
 Ronald A. Boucher  Yes
 Robert Martelle  Yes
 Preliminary election will eliminate one
 
 School Committee  
 Mary Lou Accetta* Yes
 Lawrence K. Taft* Yes
 Leonard Giroux Jr.  Yes
 Tara J. Jacobs  Yes
 David Lamarre Yes
   
McCann School Committee  
 George M. Canales Yes

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