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Wayland North of Rhode Island was selected to turn the classroom wing of the Memorial Building into one and two-bedroom apartments. Above, an illustration of the Wayland North's plans.

Memorial Building Project Awarded to Rhode Island Developer

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass.— The Board of Selectmen unanimously selected Wayland North of Providence, R.I., to develop the Memorial Building into a mix of residential and commercial opportunities.
 
After an executive session Wednesday, the board voted to award Jay Hayes of Wayland North the project that will convert the former middle school's classroom wing into one and two-bedroom apartments. 
 
"We were told that we should tear it down by many ... but now we are at this point and we are very very proud of that," Selectman John Duval said.
 
On Sept. 29, the Selectmen interviewed both Wayland North and Mackin Construction Co. Inc about the project. Both developers were planning one and two-bedroom apartments in the classroom wing. Both proposals would be a complete renovation with new windows, doors, mechanicals, landscaping, and parking. 
 
Hayes has plans for 20 two-bedroom and four one-bedroom units and partitioning 20 percent of the units for affordable housing. The units will be mixed in, not separated. The cafeteria is to be turned into a cafe and the exterior facade redone in white to stand out.
 
The board was impressed with Hayes' proposal and felt it met the towns' own needs. They were also impressed by other Wayland North projects.
 
Selectwoman Christine Hoyt thanked all those who showed interest in the property and was encouraged that so many highly qualified developers were interested in the town. 
 
"New housing is a critical part of our future and I appreciate all who came forward," she said. 
 
Selectman Howard Rosenberg agreed and added that he was impressed by the complex and large-scale projects Wayland North had worked on.
 
"I was impressed by some of their projects, some far more complex than this one," he said. "I was impressed by their expertise, and It takes a lot to do real estate development in this day and age."
 
For Duval, he said it was important that Wayland North allowed the town to continue to own portions of the building
 
"We had a vision to keep this building and to keep it a viable recreation and community center," he said. 
 
The town will maintain control over the Valley Street entrance and the gym and auditorium. These spaces will be for community use and the Council on Aging.
 
Duval said the town hopes to move the council before the end of the year. He said the town does plan to update and refresh the building.
 
Duval was also encouraged that Wayland North is currently developing the Jones and Carlow blocks on Park Street. He added that new housing is needed in Adams and he hopes this will be the first of many projects.
 
"This is a big time for the town of Adams, and we haven't had a big housing project like this as far back as I can remember," Duval said. "This will be the first of many ... we want people, who may work elsewhere, to live in our community and we need new housing. There is a lot of old housing stock in Northern Berkshire County."
 
The Memorial Building has been used on a limited basis since closing as a school a decade ago. Potential developers flirted with the project over the years but serious efforts often stalled.
 
The town replaced the building's roof and HVAC system. Not only were these improvements needed, but the town hoped they would attract developers.
 
The recently passed Smart Growth zoning sweetened the pot. The state program incentivizes developers to utilize existing structures to create market-rate housing that also provided a percentage of affordable housing units and space for retail or commerce. 
 
Duval said the town administrator will work with town counsel to negotiate a selling price and contract with the developer. This will later come back to the board for approval.
 

Tags: housing,   memorial building,   

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Mama's Place Bringing Pub-Style Home Cooking to Adams

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

Owner AnnMarie Belmonte says the community has been very supportive of her newest venture, Mama's Place. 

ADAMS, Mass. — Mama's Place at 85 Commercial St. is spooning up homemade fare made by veteran restaurateur Annmarie Belmonte.

"It's pub-style food with specials that are more of what you would see in a homemade style," she said. "But the center of it is pub-style food at affordable prices."

Nearly two months after opening, Belmonte said the eatery is doing well.

Mama's Place opened on Oct. 5 and operates from 2 to 8 Tuesday through Friday and noon to 8 on Saturday for winter hours. Belmonte said she wanted to offer Adams something that it didn't have with Mama's Place.

Her goal with Mama's Place was to provide Adams with homemade food and desserts while also keeping it at an economical price. She is active on the eatery's Facebook page, often posting about specials and deals for the restaurant.

"I do a soup every day. They're always homemade. It's not anything that's coming from a can. So basically, it was to offer something in town that was different and affordable," she said. "That's basically what the whole vibe is here. I do homemade whoopie pies and cookies. I also have homemade chocolates that I do."

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