Pittsfield Historical Commission OKs Rebuild of Bakery for Pot Dispensary
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Cannabis company True East Leaf plans to rebuild the former Richmond Bakery's second floor after running into multiple uneven additions on the historic building's footprint.
The Historical Commission last week approved a demolition application for the operation. It was on the agenda as a demolition delay, which grants a window of opportunity to find an alternative to demolishing a significant building more than 50 years old.
City Planner CJ Hoss explained that owners Kayley Stasiewski and Tommy Pytko don't know if they will have to remove more than 50 percent of the building — which is the threshold for requiring a demolition delay — but just want to be safe.
"There are multiple additions to the structure so it'd be difficult for them to work within that," he said.
Joe Durwin, who researches structures for historical significance as "The Home Historian," was hired to create a profile for the property that dates back to the late 1800s.
Durwin found that only a portion of the second floor is original to the property because it was remodeled in 1958, only leaving the original exterior shingle walls beneath the siding. The ground floor was remodeled in 1960 and an addition was made to the upstairs in 1985, which is currently not in good condition.
"It would appear the only original part of the structure is the front part of the second floor, the rear portion of the second floor was added fairly recently. I think [1985,]" he said.
"What they did was kind of they propped up the entire second floor, rebuilt the first floor in 1960, but they had already remodeled the upstairs apartment two years before so that when you go in there it's really very reflective of that period, floors the walls ceiling, everything has been, so there's really no interior surfaces that reflect the original structure at all."
Board members were surprised that there weren't plans to demolish the whole building.
In February 2020, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved True East Leaf's special permit request to grow and sell cannabis at the former bakery. It had received approval through the Community Development Board the previous year but the ZBA delayed the vote for several months with concerns over possible odor and parking.
There is no dedicated off-street parking for the property, as it is sandwiched between two buildings.
Hoss said they may have come to an agreement with Berkshire Medical Center for employee parking.
"It's like any sort of more urban neighborhood center where you're relying on on-street parking anyway for the most part for these types of businesses," he said.
Last spring, the owners said they were "very close" to submitting a state application. In an outreach meeting, they outlined its action plans for security, diversion to minors, and how it will positively impact the community.
Commissioner John Dickson asked if the city keeps a record of cannabis businesses in the city, speculating that this is the third or fourth property of historic nature being reimaged for this use.
Hoss said there is a spreadsheet that keeps track of all cannabis businesses that have been approved whether it is a dispensary, manufacturing, cultivation, and even one for research. All businesses have also gotten a host agreement.
"We try to keep tabs because there are so many that were approved early on, we knew it was going to be a slow process but we're still trying to understand which ones likely won't ever happen and which ones are still really moving forward." He explained.
"I think it's still a slow process at the state level, so I know there are a number of businesses, especially on the cultivation manufacturing side, which we've been hearing about for over two years, at this point three years, more than that, and they're sort of still tracking out there."
Tags: demolition, historical building,