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Bid Deadline for Mohawk Theater & Four Properties Extended

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is giving some extra time for potential buyers of five properties, including the historic Mohawk Theater, to get their bids in. 
 
Requests for proposals were issued in early December for the Main Street theater as well as the Windsor Mill, Sullivan School, 568 Mohawk Trail and 367 Houghton St. Several these properties have been up for sale in the past.
 
The bids were due on Jan. 4, but that has been extended to Jan. 22.
 
"Having a due date so closer to New Year's and getting them out at a time of year within the holiday season, not to mention the additional challenges due to the pandemic, I felt obliged in making it more reasonable and fair by extending the deadline," said Michael Nuvallie of the city's Community Development Office. 
 
The past two administrations have been trying to offload properties no longer deemed usable or productive for the city with some success. The former city yard is now a Cumberland Farms and former Johnson School sold last year; the sale of the Notre Dame church and school was approved in October. A number of smaller properties were also sold at auction in October. 
 
The Windsor Mill and Sullivan School both had prior interest but were not completed — the bidder for Windsor dropped out over contamination concerns at the former textile mill and the City Council rejected a bid to turn the Kemp Park elementary school into a manufacturing school and incubator. 
 
The Houghton Street property is a single-family home that failed to solicit any bids last year; the Mohawk Trail property, an empty lot, is a new addition.
 
The jewel in this latest round of RFPs is the Mohawk Theater, a long-closed 1938 moviehouse situated on Main Street. The more than 16,000 square-feet building sits on a nearly half-acre site and his assessed at $436,800.
 
The city has attempted to save the theater because of its position on Main Street and its history but has not gotten much further than securing and stabilizing the the structure. The front facade and long lobby entrance was reconstructed but the rest of the building is an empty shell. All the Art Deco interior has been removed. 
 
A number of schemes have been proposed, including adding on to the building so live shows could be performed, but the cost has been an obstacle. The building's been viewed congressmen, governors and movie stars in an attempt to drum up interest in a renovation project.
 
Nearly two years ago, Mayor Thomas Bernard proposed selling the property to a buyer who could do something with the structure. Councilors had balked at first, saying they wanted more assurances on any proposal that would secure the long-vacant building's future should the buyer fail in its plans or allow the structure to deteriorate. After lengthy debate, they agreed as long as retaining and maintaining the landmark marquee was made a condition of any sale. 
 
"Based upon the number of parties that have taken out RFP packets, there is much more interest across all five of them and hopefully we will get some good proposals on all of them as well," Nuvallie said. 
 
 
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North Adams Councilor Apologizes for Text

Staff Reports
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A declared mayoral candidate is apologizing for an inappropriate text message more than a week after the message was first posted to a Facebook chat group. 
 
City Councilor Jason LaForest had sent Emily Bryant a text with clapping hands and the hashtag "hottie" in 2019. Bryant, who is married, posted the message and her response (which started with "Dude, don't go there ...") to the North Adams Chat group. 
 
LaForest in his public apology on Facebook (with a Jason LaForest for Mayor logo) wrote that Bryant was someone he was "acquainted with briefly" in 2019 and he had sent the post in response to a workout selfie she'd posted as a compliment. 
 
"While the sole intent of this message was one of encouragement and support, it was obviously perceived otherwise, and I wish to extend my sincere apology to her," he wrote. 
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