The former doctor's building has been vacant for a couple years and was expected to be demolished.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board gave its approval on Monday to the relocation of the former doctor's building on State Road to serve as the new administrative building for Harriman & West Airport.
"This is just a spin-off of that original building," Thomas Mahoney, director of airport engineering for the state Department of Transportation's Aeronautics division, told the planners.
The airport had been one of 17 in the state that was found to be lacking in suitable administrative buildings. The airports were divvied up into groups but the funding was delayed after the first group's buildings were completed. North Adams, in the second group with Taunton and Plymouth, came up short for its estimated $4 million building.
"In the meantime, the airport took possession of a vacant building on airport land and it was decided in a cost-cutting measure to move the building into the location of the previously approved building," Mahoney explained.
The former Northern Berkshire Family Practice, an 8,700 square foot facility built in 2001 on leased airport land, was donated to the city by Berkshire Health Systems, which acquired the structure with the assets of Northern Berkshire Healthcare. The building's been vacant for a couple years since the doctor's practice moved to the former hospital campus.
Architect David Westall said the function, location and parking will be the same as the prior application.
"It is an adaptive reuse of an existing building that if this would not be done, would more than likely be demolished," he said.
The structure will contain administrative offices and a small public restaurant, although that will be slightly larger than the previous version with 62 seats. The second floor will also hold offices, storage and mechanicals.
"Of course, architecturally it will look different than what was approved two years ago," Westall said. "Because this is an existing building we are adapting rather than building from scratch. Two years ago, it was more contemporary building ... but we're having to take the existing building and sprucing it up a bit."
The structure will have new siding, roof and windows, including dormers for the upper section, and an exterior staircase added to the east side. It will also be more energy efficient with new insulation and heating and cooling system.
"We're doing our best to jazz it up a bit," Westall said.
Planner Lynette Bond asked if there would be parking for people using the planned Mohawk Bike Path, which will have a terminus at the airport, who might also stop at the restaurant. Peter Enzien of Stantec, the airport's engineer, said yes.
"It's been the desire of the Airport Commission and the airport to do exactly that, to be able to attract folks who are biking and have a public space for them to sit and view the airfield," he said.
Bids for the project are expected to go out in late July and be opened by August.
In other business, the board approved:
• An application by Christian Brindel to operate a retail gallery at 40 Eagle St. Brindel said the store, Moonlight Collection, would be a boutique offering art, musical instruments and women's fashions. He said he had lived in the Florida Keys but had lost everything in a hurricane and recently moved to North Adams to start anew.
• An application by Nicholas Tardive and Julia Daly to reopen a restaurant at 303 Ashland St. Tardive said they hoped to pull in the college crowd that had patronized the Parlor Cafe at that same location. "They did a really good job of opening it up to the students at MCLA," he said. The plan is to offer mostly vegan and vegetarian foods, sandwiches, and coffee and do open mic nights, music and trivia.
• An application of Blackinton Operating LLC (Tourists) to operate offices at 900 State Road. Project manager Eric Kerns said the building, across from the Trail House Restaurant, would be used for management and extra parking for staff. It was most recently the Orthopedic Center.
• Another set of hanging signs that are to be installed on Eagle Street as part of the NAMAzing Eagle Street Initiative. They will also have to be approved by the City Council.
The board rejected, however, a special permit to turn a two-unit building at 84 Washington St. into a three-unit apartment building. Owner David Valego said he was having trouble renting out the two-bedroom unit because it was oversized and tenants didn't like the layout and heating bills. Because of the configuration, he could separate it into two one-bedroom units using the two existing bathrooms and adding a kitchen.
Valego had already put up a wall, however, and several planners evinced concern over his proceeding without proper permits and the potential issues with parking and traffic. Leary cautioned that parking was under the purview of the Zoning Board of Appeals but Planner Lisa Blackmer said she had driven by the building and real concerns about the size of the lot for the existing units.
Approval required a two-thirds, or at least six, votes. The final tally was 5-3, with Blackmer, Kyle Hanlon and Brian Miksic voting against.
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Drury Graduate to Direct Horror Film in North Adams
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Drury High School graduate is hoping to bring his dream — or, more appropriately, his nightmare — to film life.
The horror film "The Uncredited," written by Nick Burchard, will be filmed in North Adams this spring, pending fundraising and the COVID-19 pandemic. Burchard's Tiny Viking Productions is making the film in conjunction with Sancha Spiller and Kasey Rae of Skylah Productions of New York City.
"I grew up in the area, and I've always appreciated the historical places, in particular the Hoosac Tunnel, Mohawk Theater, and the old mills," Burchard said. "I think North Adams has a very unique setting, with the mountains surrounding the city and of course, all the steeples.
"The Uncredited" follows a young woman who appears in an independent film. While watching it, her friends notice something disturbing in the background of her scene. This leads to rumors and distrust in even the closest group of friends.
"My goal is to make great characters, and even though it's a spooky thriller the characters in it are just friends sitting down to watch a movie together," Burchard said. "They crack jokes, roast each other, and are all collectively trying to have a good time … but that juxtaposed with the realization that one of them might be hiding something is what creates the thriller edge to this. I think it's really fun."
Spiller added that the film does not rely on horror tropes such as jump scares. She said the screenplay is character-driven.
"It showcases our greatest fear of not knowing the people around us as well as we think," she said. "It makes us second guess who we trust and remember that just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have horrifying consequences."