NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Local developer and artist Eric Rudd is making plans for the future of the Beaver Mill by transforming part of it into a bed and breakfast.
The Planning Board on Monday approved the change of use for the historic mill and also gave the OK for Rudd to operate an electric bicycle rental business as well.
Rudd said he and his wife, Barbara, are looking long term for how for the massive structure, one of the oldest mills in the city, can continue to function. It's 130,000 square feet has been a home to them and a studio and exhibit space for Rudd's work, as well as a mixed use commercial space and host for artist residencies.
"When we moved here full time and fixed up the mill was 30 years ago, everything we did has worked out quite well but the next 30 years is well beyond our lifespan," he said. "The long-term view, when Barbara and I are deceased, is that our loft, which is 8,000 square feet, would have up to six bedrooms, 6 1/2 bathrooms. And we wanted the B&B to preserve the loft and make use of various venues within the Beaver Mill."
Rudd said he wanted approval from the city before making any investments in upgrades. The loft is quite comfortable but it does need "to be decorated and refreshed," he said.
The Rudds are also looking to upgrade the space on the second floor that has been used on and off for artist residencies. Hill Engineers has been contracted to develop plans for installing private bathrooms in the rooms.
"This part of the greater overall picture of the Beaver Mill, trying to maintain and make use of artist residencies, artist studios and my work in my studio is a big chunk of the mill," he said.
The application was made by Cire Corp. of Massachusetts (Rudd's business arm) operating as Beaver Mill Loft B&B and in partnership with the nonprofit Barbara and Eric Rudd Art Foundation, which also runs the Berkshire Art Museum.
Rudd said the foundation board also includes his two sons, an accountant and an attorney.
"I've been doing a lot of documentation about what's going to happen and we have set up in that direction," he said, noting he wrote a book on art studio development. "Obviously in today's age of coronavirus, you start thinking about the end game. And it could happen sooner than you expect. So, this is part of the game plan."
The transformation won't happen overnight but rather over some time. Rudd said he's setting up the infrastructure now because if he waits 10 years, it won't happen.
As for the bicycle rental, he said a study by the Berkshire Business Bureau found most people come here for the outdoors.
"But the problem as you get older those hills are very high, and they feel difficult to climb," Rudd said. "The sea change in the industry has been the invention and common use of electric assist bicycles."
He said he's been talking about the idea with a friend who operates a similar rental business in Aspen, Colo., and thinks the mill is the perfect spot with its proximity to Natural Bridge State Park and the less-traveled lanes to the north.
The bicycles cost about $3,000 a piece, will only be for adults and will require a helmet and driver's license. There's plenty of parking and mill space, as well as area for people to practice riding the vehicles. The bikes would be returned to the mill, not left in other locations.
"I think it's a perfect business for North Adams," Rudd said. "I think it'll stimulate a lot of other things, quite frankly. ...
"I've been talking about it for years and years, and I just think it's a win win."
He anticipates starting this year with a handful of bicycles and add on next year after when pandemic should be phasing out.
"So I had two businesses that I want to do. This season is obviously not going to happen," he said. "This is a perfect season to No. 1 be optimistic about the future and No. 2, to do the nuts and bolts and get things in order and start having things happen next year."
In other business:
• The board approved a change in hours for the Break Room restaurant in Greylock Works on State Road to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
• Heard a presentation from Nate Karns of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission on short-term rentals.
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Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life
Submitted by Edward Jones
As an investor, you will always need to deal with risk of some kind. But how can you manage the risk that has been made clear by the recent volatility in the financial markets? The answer to this question may depend on where you are in life.
Let's look at some different life stages and how you might deal with risk at each of them:
• When you are first starting out: If you are early in your career, with perhaps four or even five decades to go until you retire, you can likely afford to invest primarily for growth, which also means you will be taking on a higher level of risk, as risk and reward are positively correlated. But, given your age, you have time to overcome the market downturns that are both inevitable and a normal part of investing. Consequently, your risk tolerance may be relatively high. Still, even at this stage, being over-aggressive can be costly.
• When you are in the middle stages: At this time of your life, you are well along in your career, and you are probably working on at least a couple of financial goals, such as saving for retirement and possibly for your children's college education. So, you still need to be investing for growth, which means you likely will need to maintain a relatively high risk tolerance. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have some balance in your portfolio, so you will want to consider a mix of investments that align with each of your goals.
• When you are a few years from retirement: Now, you might have already achieved some key goals – perhaps your kids have finished college and you have paid off your mortgage. This may mean you have more money available to put away for retirement, but you still will have to think carefully about how much risk you are willing to take. Since you’re going to retire soon, you might consider rebalancing your portfolio to include some more conservative investments, whose value is less susceptible to financial market fluctuations. The reason? In just a few years, when you are retired, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your investment portfolio – essentially, you will be selling investments, so, as much as possible, you will want to avoid selling them when their price is down. Nonetheless, having a balanced and diversified portfolio doesn't fully protect against a loss. However, you can further reduce the future risk of being overly dependent on selling variable investments by devoting a certain percentage of your portfolio to cash and cash equivalents and designating this portion to be used for your daily expenses during the years immediately preceding, and possibly spilling into, your retirement.
• When you are retired: Once you are retired, you might think you should take no risks at all. But you could spend two or three decades in retirement, so you may need some growth potential in your portfolio to stay ahead of inflation. Establishing a withdrawal rate – the amount you take out each year from your investments – that's appropriate for your lifestyle and projected longevity can reduce the risk of outliving your money. Of course, if there's an extended market downturn during any time of your retirement, you may want to lower your withdrawal rate temporarily.
As you can see, your tolerance for risk, and your methods of dealing with it, can change over time. By being aware of this progression, you can make better-informed investment decisions.
Wayne Gelinas and Lea King have been forced to shutter their Mohawk Trail eatery, at least for the time being. But they have found a way to continue business online while providing free meals to those in need.
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