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Redwood Motel project manager Eric Kerns talks to the North Adams Planning Board about some developments in the project.

More Redwood Project Details Divulged to North Adams Planners

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff
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North Adams Planners look at color renderings for the proposed store 
and gas station at 140 Eagle St.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The landscape architectural firm responsible for the "renewal and enhancement" of the Clark Art Institute in 2014 has joined the team planning the development of the Redwood Motel project on State Road.

Cambridge-based firm Reed Hilderbrand is joining Texas-based sustainable architectural firm Lake/Plato to work on the master plan for the site, which started out as a simple motel renovation but since has turned into a 50-acre project that incorporates the Hoosic River into more of an environmental resort destination, project manager Eric Kerns told the Planning Board on Monday night.

Kerns appeared before the board on Monday to give the latest update on the project, including showing pictures of artists' renderings from the two well-known firms, both of which are typically associated with much larger projects than this one. The fact they both signed onto this smaller project "flummoxed" him, he said.

"Lake/Flato is known for these beautiful, spare buildings that blend into and complement the landscape," Kerns said, adding their projects often exude an "amazing lo-fi vibe" as well as many "art-integrated spaces" they hope to bring to North Adams. "We're trying to bring a little bit of the South up here."

Kerns said decisions about the facade are being made, including the use of a pine board similar to what the Vikings used to build their boats and a corrugated metal roof, and features such as stand-alone solar lighting and special gravel material for the parking area are being considered as well. He also showed the sketch of a foot bridge crossing the river designed by Tree-Mendous Adventure Parks, which designed the Ramblewild aerial adventure park in Lanesborough.

"It's going to be pretty magical," Kerns said, adding that those involved with the Hoosic River Watershed Association and the Hoosic River Revival were "green with envy" about these plans.

Kerns also said he has finalized some plans with the Conservation Commission as well as the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and has made a couple adjustments since he last came before the Planning Board as a result. One of those changes shifted the building away from more sensitive land and slightly toward neighbors — neighbors who previously had expressed concern about the project. While Kerns assured the board that he had surveyors measure the new lines several times to make sure the setbacks from the neighbors remained acceptable, Planning Board Chairman Michael Leary told him he needed to bring any future changes to the board.

"If you're going to make changes, you should come to this board first," he said. "Before you put concrete to the ground, you need to come here and tell us."

While the board expressed enthusiasm and support for the overall project, there also was some concern that it was being brought to the board in pieces, which made it difficult to see the big picture.

Planner Kyle Hanlon said that while he was sure it was going to be a "beautiful project" he wondered when the board was going to see plans for the other buildings on the property — the 1813 home and barn — and how everything will fit together in the end. That sentiment was echoed by Building Inspector William Meranti, who questioned Kerns about the amount of parking spaces to be included in the project, something about which he said he had been asked.

"It's complicated the grand scheme of things," he said. "It's hard for us to answer questions when we have to go, ‘Well, we don't know.'"

"Once we get the master plan to a place we're comfortable with, we'll bring it here," Kerns said, assuring the board that the designers were "really conscious" about making sure everything they do will fit into the landscape of the city. "They want to make something incredibly beautiful."

In other Planning Board business, the board approved allowing Ilyas Ozdemir to open a new pizza restaurant called Bella Rome on the corner of Eagle and Main streets with the condition that he provide the board with "professionally done artist renderings" of the proposed sign.

Ozdemir, who already owns Pizza Works on Ashland Street, said he plans to just clean and paint the former Surpreme Pizza as well as fix or buy new equipment. Supreme Pizza was closed by order of the Health Department earlier this year because of violations and did not reopen.

Meranti reminded Ozdemir that the current agreement of letting the restaurant place its waste containers on city land behind the store was contingent upon the city not wanting the space for some other reason.

"Somewhere down the road that could change, depending on what the city does with the Mohawk Theater or the pocket park," Meranti said.

The Planning Board also agreed to file the colored renderings of the proposed new convenience store and gas station at 140 Eagle St. but to request further clarification about the accuracy of those plans, which appeared to show a pathway at the back of the property instead of the building backing right up to the corner of the property. 

The board also agreed to tell the proprietor of Bucky's Auto Sales on River Street that he needs to remove the old garage from the property as he told the board he was going to do, tell Bond Auto Parts to remove the myriad signs on its lawn, investigate what vehicles Joshua Fields is keeping on his Union Street property and discuss the number of cars on the property of Night Owl Automotive on River Street.

Tags: gas station,   motels, hotels,   pizza,   Planning Board,   redwood project,   

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MCLA Men's Lacrosse Falls at Home

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The Anna Maria men's lacrosse team jumped out to an early 7-2 lead and went on to a 20-13 win over MCLA on Saturday.
Nathan Haley, a former standout for Hoosac Valley, scored five goals for MCLA, which also got a goal from fellow Drury graduate Neil Brierley.
Boden Dock made 12 saves for the Trailblazers.
MCLA (0-2) goes to SUNY Purchase on Wednesday.
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