Redwood Motel Developers Get OK for New Plans
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board on Monday approved expanded plans for the Redwood Motel project on State Road.
The developers have assembled some 18 properties including nearly 45 acres on the north side of the Hoosic River. The acquisition of the former Stevens farm on Friday for $350,000 from Franklin P Stevens Revocable Trust will allow the development of 47 rooms.
Principal Benjamin Svenson of Broder Properties of Boston and project manager Eric Kerns presented the updated plans to the planners on Monday to add almost 20 more rooms than originally proposed.
"It will allow us to really create something even more special on this site," Kerns said of the addition of the parcel on State Road across from Stop & Shop.
The additional property offers unimpeded access to an open grassy area, a 200-year-old farmhouse, a four-car garage and a small outbuilding.
Two new wings of the motel were originally planned for construction closer to the river but Svenson said discussions with the state had dissuaded the developers from pursuing that idea. Instead, a section of the motel will curve around the western boundary line and two wings will be constructed parallel to State Road on the farmhouse property.
An original section has already been demolished and is being rebuilt; another wing on the west side is being used for storage but will eventually be taken down for parking.
"Our intention here is really to continue the language of the Redwood with this motor court's long linear structure that's been part of the history of this region," said Svenson, explaining the buildings will remain one-story.
But the Beyond Place LLC is also injecting its own language into the high-end rooms by eliminating the usual window/window, door/door motor court facade. Instead, the south sides of the wings will have only doors — large windows will look outward on the other side to "engage the river."
The lack of windows will also help keep down traffic noise and lighting from Route 2 and the supermarket and airport on the south side of State Road.
"We think it's going to be a really stunning design without those windows there," Kerns said.
The house was once was the center of a sprawling farm that included the land now being used by the airport, grocery store and the motel. Svenson said the house had also been an inn in the 1940s.
The open land now part of the Redwood property can be used as part of the nonconforming pre-existing use. However, the planners cautioned that the house and garage had converted to residential years ago and any change of use would have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Kerns said there were no immediate plans to use the buildings, although there is an idea of turning the garage into an outdoors accessory store at some point.
"An 18-room motel is basically a couple staff ... it doesn't allow for any sort of professional, scalable management system," said Kerns. "But with the other properties we have coming on eventually, including the [Blackinton] Mill, the ability to start with that level of management oversight is going to be really beneficial."
He noted the need for lodging in North Adams because of the projects expected to be coming online in the near future — Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art's massive expansion, the proposed model railroad museum — and the motel's "ability to get out in front of that."
The planners considered continuing the hearing another month for details on look and materials, traffic, and stormwater management but Svenson said it was imperative to start pouring foundations to meet the deadline for Mass MoCA's opening next year.
Kerns and Svenson said they anticipated updating the board monthly on the progress. The board approved the plan but with a number of conditions: that the materials and colors to be used on the buildings be provided to the board for approval along with lighting plans and stormwater design.
The board also approved Uniq Vapes for 18 Holden St., formerly Kit & Kaboodle, but not without some reservations.
Several residents of the apartments on Holden Street also objected, saying they had voluntarily pledged to keep the building non-smoking and it would be hypocritical not to oppose it.
Owner Syed A. Jamal assured the planners that no one would be allowed in the e-cigarette store under the age of 21 and that identification checks would be done. The city recently passed an ordinance banning sales of any type of tobacco products to those under age 21. Jamal said he also has a shop in the Berkshire Mall and has had no problems.
Chairman Michael Leary shut down objections relating to health concerns and access for children, saying those did not fall under the Planning Board's purview. As long as Jamal had the correct permits and was within the ordinance, the shop was legal. Jamal said he was permitted through the Board of Health.
The board voted 7-1, with Jay Walsh voting against.
In other business, the board:
• Approved an application by Courtney Randall to operate a youth center at 43 Eagle St. The Northern Berkshire Teen Center (Roots) will be open for those ages 14 to 22 and was established last year.
• Approved five outdoor tables at Korean Garden, 139 Ashland St., for applicant Jenny Pae.
• Approved signage for UNO Community Center on River Street (a reskinning of the Goodyear sign); for the concession at Windsor Lake being operated by Berkshire Families and Individual Resources; for Fisher Auto Parts at 159 Ashland St., and for Pedrin's Dairy Bar (an "Open" flag).
• Rejected a request for Berkshire Transmission to add 35 more vehicles to its lot. The board voted a motion by Leary to add five more, with applicant able to request more next year if it stays in compliance.
Tags: new business, motels, hotels, Planning Board, redwood project,