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It is early days in Fitch’s venture, but his master plan is to bring in some sort of restaurant in the building’s lower levels. Optimally, he added, he wants the restaurant to operate alongside a cafe and gallery.

New Downtown Property Owner To Be A Positive Force In North Adams

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Fitch has an education in International Affairs and Political Science. He has also managed a screen acting school in Boston and managed community relations and marketing at a coding Bootcamp.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Andrew Fitch, the new owner of 117 Main St. and 3-5 Eagle St., plans to undergo a substantial renovation to support a new eatery in the building’s lower level.
"I am looking forward to meeting everyone, I am looking forward to being a positive contributor to this city, and I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone into the space," Fitch said.
It is early days in Fitch’s venture, but his master plan is to bring in some sort of restaurant to the building’s lower level. Optimally, he added, he wants the restaurant to operate alongside a cafe and gallery.
"My preference is quality," he said. "Something that is good for the city, something that people would enjoy, something that I would enjoy." 
Speaking with Fitch, he reiterated numerous times that he wanted to help reinvigorate the post-pandemic downtown and champion the city he had just stumbled upon earlier this year. 
"I am the kind of person who always gets involved in whatever community I exist in," Fitch said. "...I want to do that in North Adams, and I know this building is a unique and a special place…I figure if I do the right things with that building it could help rehabilitate the downtown area."
Fitch is an Eastern Massachusetts native but has spent time in San Francisco, New York City, and London, among other places. He said even though he has traveled the world, he has always wanted to return to the Bay State.
"For years, I have been bouncing around the country and the world but when people ask me where I am from I always say Massachusetts," Fitch said. "I have always been working on moving back home, but I was letting myself get distracted with different adventures or career opportunities."
Before the pandemic hit, Fitch was living in a sailboat in San Francisco Bay. He said he had a new nephew back home, and he wanted to fly back to Massachusetts before COVID-19 travel restrictions made that impossible.
"The day before San Francisco went on lockdown I booked a ticket…In the end, I ended up staying five months," he said. "After going back and forth a few times, I decided that I was just going to move home."  
Fitch, who currently is working remotely in diversity, equity, and inclusion for a tech company, sold his boat and started moving his things across the country. He made the trip by car and by motorcycle. 
He needed a place to live. Preferably a place where he could reconnect with the Commonwealth. After spending some time in different communities, he found North Adams.
"I thought maybe Boston. I rented a place in Provincetown for a while,…and then I found North Adams," he said. "I never heard of North Adams. I was looking for a cute little town where I could find a place in the center of town where I could find a cup of coffee, go on hikes, and do interesting things in my home state."
North Adams fit that description and Fitch made his move this summer.
"I really loved being here…I made friends quickly, and I loved the art scene," he said. "I didn’t think somewhere this interesting would ever be so affordable."
In the fall, Fitch closed on a house and then started looking at commercial properties. He said he had his eyes on the corner property for some time. After looking at a few more properties, he decided to make his move.
The property had originally been Rice's Drug Store, first established in 1866. The corner had been colloquially known as "Rice's Corner" for decades. It was then owned by Star Realty Co. before the Varelllases bought it in 1971.
Mark and Robert Moulton Jr., whose family also operates Moulton's Spectacle Shoppe next door, bought the building in 2004 from John and James Varellas. James and Stacy Varellas had run the Pizza House there for more than 30 years. 
The corner continued as a pizzeria, first as Moulton's Pizza and as several other entities, including Supreme and Bella Roma. It's been closed for more than a year.
Fitch said he has enjoyed people stopping in to tell him about their own connections to the building.
"People are curious. People knock on the door and tell me their stories and past history with the building," he said. "What it used to be, what they want it to be. People are excited."
Fitch is working with an architect and engineer and is happy to report that the building is in good shape. He anticipates some roof work but said "fingers crossed" he hopes to have a tenant street level in about a year after he spruces up the space. He said he has already been in discussions with possible tenants.
Upstairs is a different project. He said the apartments are partially gutted and that work needs to be completed. He anticipates this fits more in a two-year timeline
Outside, if possible, he hopes to install some sort of public art project. 
"I do intend to do something expressive and beautiful with the building," he said. "I don't know what that is yet but I will find a way to finagle some sort of public artwork or mural."
Fitch is happy to be part of the North Adams community and hopes to work with other developers and business owners to breathe new life into the downtown.
"I dont have any hopes that one person can bring Main Street or Eagle Street back up," he said. "But I figure if a couple of us do this kind of thing the entire city will benefit…so stay tuned."

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North Adams Planning Board Found in Violation of Open Meeting

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The attorney general's office has found that the Planning Board failed to comply with Open Meeting Law during its March meeting when it approved an outdoor cannabis grow facility by voice vote. 
The review stems from a complaint filed by City Councilors Jennifer Barbeau and Marie T. Harpin and residents Diane Gallese-Parsons, Alice Cande and Thomas Cary.
While Assistant Attorney General KerryAnne Kilcoyne confirmed the OML violation she did not address the complainants' request to void the vote and special permit in her decision.
At issue was the board's failure to follow the roll-call vote procedure for remote meetings. All nine of the board members were participating remotely on March 14 when the vote to approve New England Alchemy LLC's plans for an Ashland Street property was taken. 
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