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An artist's rendering of what the new entrance of the Blackinton Mill could look like.

New York Developers Have Plans for Blackinton Mill

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Lawrence, left, and Marc Magid have a multi-use approach for the historic Blackinton Mill.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A pair of Long Island brothers are planning to turn the historic Blackinton Mill into a commercial and residential development.

Lawrence and Marc Magid were joined at the mill on Thursday afternoon with local officials, project participants and neighbors and called on the community to help them develop the right plan.

"We need your input because we're not aware of the needs of the community," said Lawrence Magid.

The project will begin slowly and be developed methodically, said the Magids, dependent upon the amount of interest. The see the northwest corner of Massachusetts as their marketing area.

The architect is David Westall of Westall & Associates, project manager is David Moresi of Moresi & Associates and marketing will be done Alan Marden of Alton & Westall Agency.

"We have certain goals. Larry and I are the kind of people that we get ourselves truly involved," said Marc Magid. "We look at every little detail. We're the kind of people who do one thing at a time. Our projects need to be successful not only for us but for the community."

The brothers have been in the real estate business for more than 35 years, particularly in finding new uses to preserve old buildings. They started with developing lofts in Manhattan and restored or built single- and multi-family homes along with commercial. The Magids say they keep their properties to assure they remain important fixtures in their communities.

Initial plans are to create a welcoming entrance to the three-building complex on the east side facing Ashton Avenue and the vacant lot that was once the Widen Tannery.

The project will move forward after the cleanup of the tannery site through a $200,000 grant the city received from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That's about six to eight months away.

The developers said they would not only keep the  Blackinton Neighbors informed, they wanted the to offer ideas for use.
The city owns the lot but, once the cleanup is completed, the developers and city will work out an agreement for the use of the property, said Mayor Richard Alcombright.

"I talked to them late last year," he said. "They have a proven track record with real state development and I'm pleased they're bringing their success and experience to North Adams, in particular to this wonderful old neighborhood."

The mill was owned for 22 years by Michael Meehan of Meehan & Co., who tried to put together a $5 million deal to construct high-end condominiums in the buildings with Eric Rudd several years ago but the project foundered.

Magid Mills LLC purchased it on Jan. 4 for $225,000 from Meehan, operating as Carroroe Industries Inc.

Larry Magid is confident that they will succeed through diversification and incentives, such as those offered during New York's worst financial woes in the 1970s. The result was a healthy real estate market and tax base that's weathering the financial collapse.

The 100-year-old mill could work as an incubator: the brothers are willing to work with certain businesses on waiving rent until they can get on their feet. They envision multiple uses for the building — art studios, a restaurant, office space, light industry, lofts, luxury apartments.

"We're going to work slow ... This is one of the worst economies most of us has ever seen," Larry Magid said. "There's no use going into something and bury yourselves."

Councilor Lisa Blackmer stands in the open second floor space.
How did these boys from the Big Apple end up on a side road in North Adams? The answer is football. Marc Magid said his teen son was interested in playing college ball so he tried out a football program at Williams College a couple years ago. That left Magid and his wife, Amy, with time to cruise the area.

"We drove by this building ... our dream was always to have a mill building ...," he said. "I say to my wife, Amy, I don't care what it is, we're buying this building."

The clincher was when he called his brother to tell him what was in the building's basement: A sign that said "Larry the Watchman." "I said, OK, let's buy it," Larry Magid laughed.

Marc Magid also is putting down roots in North Berkshire with a home in Williamstown. His son, however, opted for Lehigh University.
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MCLA Considering Temporary Homeless Housing on Campus

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is considering turning the vacant Berkshire Towers dorm into a temporary homeless shelter.
President James Birge said on Friday that the college is considering a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that would supply needed housing for 50 homeless families.
"I look at the mission of the institution, and we talk about educating students to be responsible citizens," Birge said. "I think this models that mission."
Birge said residents would be mostly younger families. He assumed 50 families would generate 25 school-aged children in the Berkshire Towers.
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