Shaun Richard and Christopher Horsfall explain their business Immersion Gaming Center to the Planning Board on Monday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's first arcade since the long-closed Dream Machine is expected to open in early January.
The Planning Board on Monday evening approved the application by owners Shaun Richard and Christopher Horsfall to open Immersion Gaming Center at 350 State Road.
Richard said the gaming center would offer a variety of new and older types of video and arcade gaming devices.
"We would offer some old retro arcade coin-operated machines. And we're also looking to offer some more immersive gaming style setup with basic consoles like the Xbox and the PlayStation 5," he said. "We also will offer tabletop gaming like Dungeons and Dragons or Magic the Gathering."
They are planning for hours of 10 to 10 seven days a week, which led to questions about how much time younger people would be spending in the arcade.
"We're not looking to serve any alcohol, so during the school day would really be the biggest concern to me for a minor," Richard said. "With that being said, I mean if minors come in during a school day, I think we would have to restrict access at that point to the 18 or up until after school hours."
He expected to keep a sign-in sheet of people in the building largely because of COVID-19 contact tracing, which also should help with parents call looking for their children.
Because of the novel coronavirus protocols, the building would be limited to 40 percent capacity or 10 people, pending any changes by the time it opens, and machines and seats would be regularly sanitized in between use, the owners said, and they are considering markings on the floor to assist in social distancing.
"I mean it's not great for us as business owners, but it is what it is," Richard said of the capacity restrictions. "And we're more than willing to weather the storm at this point in time until it gets better."
Planner Lynette Bond asked about bicycle parking, since the arcade would likely draw a younger crowd; Planner Lisa Blackmer asked about the parking lot, which is not lined. She was also asked about how arcade noise would affect neighbors if there are "kids congregating in the lobby later at night."
"A bicycle parking is something we looked at early on. I definitely think it's a necessity. If we can't do it by opening we would hope to have the first month of being open," Richard said. As for parking, he said center is limited to 10 people right now so there is not a concern but should the restrictions ease up, the landlord is willing to work with them on getting lines painted.
"As far as the congregating at night, I mean, I think it's more of us business owners just being kind of aware of what's going on and if there's kind of congregating, that we essentially have to go and break it up," he said. "Our goal is to run, I think, a classy establishment."
Horsfall said he knows the owners of the closest residence and had "let them know if anything happens, if that stuff kind of starts happening, just let us know and we'll make sure we pay attention and take care of it."
Richard said one of them will be on site and that the building and games are such that it is not a noisy activity.
In other business, the board approved a change of ownership of Pizza Works at 315 Ashland St. to Alper Siperoglu. Attorney James Sisto said Siperoglu, sole owner of Siperoglu Corp., would be taking over the pizzeria from his uncle.
"He's been working in the business for the last three months or so, so he has a good handle on it," Sisto said. "He's young, he's got a lot of energy, a lot of ideas how he can make the atmosphere more inviting to the students."
Siperoglu does not plan any renovations, hour or menu changes until at least next spring.
• The board approved a relocation of Steepleview Realty to 37 Main St. in the Berkshire Plaza from 53 Main St. Owner Jennifer Segala said the 1,500 square feet she is currently using is too large for her business.
"We are a one- to two-person office and with COVID, most of our stuff is at a distance or mobile," she said. "We had the opportunity to move our space over to where Burnham Gold Real Estate was ... It's about half the square footage, 600 square feet, so it's going to be professional real estate office as it is currently being used right now."
• Andrew Casteel, doing business as WallaSauce, an upcycle and alternative materials clothing brand, was added to the file for property located at 189 Beaver St., the Contemporary Artists Center.
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MCLA Receives Grant from National Endowment for the Arts
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) has been approved for a $20,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support the MCLA Institute for the Dismantling of Racism.
This project will educate and support staff members of historically White art institutions in creating and implementing an anti-racist agenda within the arts, one person at a time. BCRC's project is among the more than 1,100 projects across America, totaling nearly $27 million, that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding.
"As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations such as the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center reengage fully with partners and audiences," said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. "Although the arts have sustained many during the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure."
Upon receiving the grant, BCRC Executive Director Erica Wall said, "We are thrilled to have received this NEA grant. It validates and advances our work and our commitment to dismantling racism within and through the arts."
He said the plan was to develop 48 sites as outlined in the original permit but that there may be some modifications of the placement of some buildings in the plans, for which he would come back before the board.
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The Mass MoCA Commission on Wednesday approved the seasonal restaurant to occupy the former Gramercy space, specifically the courtyard near the museum entrance. The restaurant would operate from Memorial Day until some time September.
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