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The Berkshire Mall closed permanently in 2019. The current owners are now considering a senior living complex for the property.

Berkshire Mall Cannabis Plans Scrapped for Senior Living Facility

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Berkshire Mall's new owners took the Select Board by surprise on Monday when they reported a pivot from cannabis cultivation plans.

Target's refusal to dissolve prohibitive restrictions and oversaturation of the market have JMJ Holdings now leaning toward a senior living facility with condominiums and other commercial uses on the property.

"We understand that this is a large change from our original plan but it's very important to us to become a long-standing member of this town," JMJ's Jay Jones said.

"We want to take this opportunity to do what's right for residents of this county and for our business."

Jones said the development would consist of independent living, assisted living, nursing and memory care units. In the plans are also multifamily units and new development that would include doctors' offices, restaurants and retail space.

JMJ would also like to have an expanded emergency medical services on the property.

"We strongly believe that this would be a great benefit not only to the town of Lanesborough but to Berkshire County as well," Jones said.

"The new real estate development would bring in construction jobs, nursing jobs and a variety of other permanent good-paying jobs. As the baby-boomer population grows elderly, housing, assisted living, and nursing homes are absolutely needed in his community, as well as many others. Perhaps the greatest benefit from this new development to the town is the creation of higher tax revenue than would have been generated through a cannabis facility."

He said the preliminary estimates show between $2.5 million to $3 million in new tax revenue.

Jones said the company has carefully researched the 2019 future use study on the property done through the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and interacted with residents and political leadership. That coupled with the the declining cannabis market led them to pivot plans.

Selectman Timothy Sorrell said the board was surprised but is glad to see something done with the property that will generate tax revenue.

"An empty building doesn't do any of us any good," he said.

Selectman John Goerlach also did not have any objection to the action. Selectman Michael Murphy was absent.

The board signed a Community Host Agreement for the cannabis manufacturing reuse earlier this year.  The owners would like to hold onto the agreement for the possibility of partnering with infusible product companies.

The mall has largely been out of use since 2019 with the exception of Regal Cinema, which closed in 2022, and Target, which is the only remaining store left and which owns the structure it's in separately from the mall.

Jones said they have to address the real issue of the cost to make the property usable and benefit the town while making money.

"I think this is the best solution that we can come up with," he said. "We look forward to working with the town. It gives us the opportunity to write a whole new page for the town of Lanesborough."

The two entities agreed that they need to continue dialogue and collaborative work to make the mall's revitalization possible.

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Pittsfield: Toters Are a Go

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is toter-lly ready for a new trash system.

Call it a victory for Mayor Peter Marchetti, who was able push through in six months a new waste pickup model that had eluded his predecessors. 

The City Council approved draft five-year contracts with Casella Waste Management on Tuesday, moving Pittsfield from unlimited curbside collection to automated collection with 48-gallon toters for trash and recycling.

Recycling will begin on Sept. 13 and trash routes will start on Oct. 18 with toters provided at no cost to residents. Officials predict this will trim the trash budget by about $600,000 to $4.6 million, with $80,000 in savings embedded in the FY25 operating budget.

"There has been more communication and education, at least, about this rollout than I've seen before," Councilor at Large Kathy Amuso said.

Solid waste and recycling pickup was the main point of contention.

The contract for collection passed 8-3 with Councilor at Large Alisa Costa, Ward 1 Councilor Kenneth Warren, and Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey in opposition and the contract for Casella's operation of the transfer station at 500 Hubbard Ave passed unanimously.

Warren explained that he is not against the contract but has issues with the procedure and some of the terms. He suggested that if the councilors "really don't scrutinize this contract," they are doing a disservice to the city.

"We need to learn by our recent mistakes. The settlement contract case where we were sued, the cannabis case, by companies based on the contract and without getting into specifics, let's just say better scrutiny of the contract would have protected city taxpayers," he said.

"And someone will say 'Well, that doesn't apply here' but there are minor errors in the contract as we talk that have not been addressed."

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