PITTSFIELD -- Christmas may come early for Bridget Brown this year.
In two weeks, the owner of the Berkshire Flower Co. could receive a gift in the form of an 11th-hour reprieve allowing the local florist to remain in business for another decade.
The City Council at its Dec. 11 meeting is expected to receive and vote on a proposal approved by the Pittsfield Conservation Com mission that would give Brown until Dec. 31, 2022, to leave her current location on South Street near Dan Fox Drive.
By the end of this year, the businesswoman was to vacate the property she rents from Patriot Suites Inc. along Routes 7 & 20 because of a 15-year-old conservation restriction that Pittsfield has with the hotel owner.
The agreement calls for the florist shop to be demolished and the lot to be reclaimed as green, open space for the city's southern gateway.
Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, based in part on public outcry against the shop's closing, brokered a deal to extend the agreement 10 more years. The Conservation Commission approved the proposal, officially requested by Patriot Suites, on Nov. 15. The City Council has the final say in the matter.
Brown says she was thrilled by the commission vote and grateful to have the mayor's backing, support the businesswoman has lobbied for since Bianchi took office Jan. 2.
"Ten years of hard labor, that's what I got," she said with a smile during an Eagle interview. "Everybody, my family, friends, and customers are happy about this because they know I have a good following,"
Bianchi cites public support for Brown as one reason he advocated for an extension.
"[The flower shop] also fits the character of the area because it's a nice, quaint business," the mayor said. "This also gives us more time to decide what to do with the site."
Brown, through her landlord, Patriot Suites, has already been granted two extensions from the city since the land was to be conveyed to Pittsfield by June 7, 2010. The site is part of a larger property on Dan Fox Drive that Patriot Suites acquired in 2003 from the family of the late former owner, A. Gordon Rose. The real estate transaction included the transfer of the conservation restriction.
Unlike the previous extension requests, the Conservation Commission was more receptive to the latest one, according to Chairman James B. Conant.
"It was a collaborative effort to reach a compromise and [Brown] had the support of the mayor," Conant said. "At the end of the day, we still have the restriction in place and we keep a small business going."
The Berkshire Flower Co. opened in 1987 at the original home of Guido's Fresh Marketplace and the Berkshire Record Outlet. Initially, the building housed the Quarry Snack Bar from the 1940s to the 1960s.
The flower shop currently employs an average of three full-time employees, year-round. Her son, Levi, 20, and other family members and friends help out.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.