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David Moresi of Moresi & Associates explains his plans for the Union Street mill. He had previously renovated it for office space.
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North Adams Planners OK High End Union Street Housing

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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David Moresi plans to renovate the second and third floors of the Wall-Streeter mill into one and two-bedroom apartments.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Developer David Moresi's next project is to transform the offices in the former Wall-Streeter building into high-end apartments.
The Planning Board on Monday approved Moresi Commercial Investments' request Monday for a change of use to operate mixed occupancy of commercial and residential use in an I-2 zone at 26 Union St.
"For the next couple of years, we are going to focus on housing in North Adams," Moresi said. "This will be one of three projects and it will be mixed-use redevelopment of the former Wall-Streeter Shoe Co. We are bringing back the name."
Moresi said the plan is to build high-end housing on the second and third floors that will range from one to two-bedroom units. The first floor will remain office space.
"We are focused on more of a high-end nature of these residences and we are presently engaged in actively leasing and getting some commitment to them," he said. "The building is going to get a real interior gutting and we want to bring back the real mill look to the building and reclaim the hardwood floors."
He said there will be three commercial units on the first floor, including Northern Berkshire School Union's central office that will be relocating there.
The basement will have a shared bike repair area for tenants.
"We see a demand for this ... people are relocating here a lot of them are younger people," he said. "A lot of people are biking around so what we are going to do is create a space where they can store their bikes ... where there is a bench so they can work on them."
He said a pet grooming area is also on the table.
A portion of the west parking lot will be converted to green space but HiLo nightclub across the street will still have access to the mill's parking.
Moresi has redeveloped and renovated a number of commercial and residential properties, including most successfully the Norad Mill. He also renovated apartment units in the Mulcare Block on Marshall Street and was awarded the bid for Johnson School, which he also plans to convert to housing. 
The Planning Board also approved one of Moresi's tenants in their relocation from Union Street to the Norad Mill on Roberts Drive. Bluebell Servicing requested a change of use to operate a business in an I-1 zone.
"They will join the Norad community and bring a few more jobs over there," Moresi said.
In other business, the board approved William B. Schmitt's request to open a tea shop at 149 Eagle St.
"It will be a very basic retail-based situation," Schmitt said. "I want to sell high-quality loose leaf organic tea in about 50 different variations."
He said he may look to sell food at the location in the future or to open as a cafe.
The board also heard from Michael Hernandez representing Honey Beer & Wine LLC that has purchased Ed's Variety on Union Street.
"No changes, they just bought the business as is," he said.
Planner Lisa Blackmer noted that parking has always been an issue at the corner store and asked that the new owners make an attempt to have employees park elsewhere. 

Tags: housing,   mill reuse,   Planning Board,   

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Guest Column: Statement on Sentencing in Steele-Knudslien Murder

Guest Column
As the region's longest-serving LGBTQ organization, Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition has closely followed the case of the murder of Christa Steele-Knudslien, the North Adams resident and founder of the Miss Trans New England Pageant. 
Today [Thursday], her murderer has been sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after serving 25 years. In the two years since we lost Christa, the community has rallied around her memory and inspiration. In North Adams, a grassroots task force was founded in reaction to her death and those of other residents killed by their partners. This led to the Berkshire County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force, a coalition of community agencies such as Elizabeth Freeman Center, law enforcement, and the court system, currently working to end domestic violence in Berkshire County for good. 
On the brighter side, over the past two years the Berkshire Pride Festival has grown to be a major event, celebrating and uplifting the trans community that Christa cared about so much. An annual award for local LGBTQ leaders has been established in her name and with her spirit. Clothing swaps have happened where Berkshire residents shared the joy and beauty of being trans, the same goal Christa had in mind when founding her pageant. Rainbow Seniors and the Berkshire Trans Group expanded their meetings, providing support and connection from Williamstown to Great Barrington.
Politically, a local contingent spent hours organizing and fighting to pass the state ballot measure last year that made Massachusetts the first state to successfully defend an attack on a trans rights bill, setting a strong precedent for human rights across the nation. And we mourned, as a community, at each Trans Day of Remembrance, a national event that struck home when we read Christa's name amongst those murdered.
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