PITTSFIELD -- A Lee-based business is relocating its national office headquarters to the former Sinai Academy of the Berkshires building on South Street.

The College Internship Program, or CIP, recently paid more than $500,000 for the Sinai Academy building, a private school that closed in June, according to CIP officials.

CIP founder Michael McManmon expects that, following some minor renovations to the building, the move of 20 staff members to Pittsfield will take place by April.

CIP founder Michael McManmon expects that, following some minor renovations to the building, the move of 20 staff members to Pittsfield will take place by April.

McManmon emphasized to an Eagle reporter on Tuesday that only the national office staff -- not CIP's student campus in Lee -- is headed north. Established in 1984, CIP helps young adults with Asperger's syndrome -- a high-functioning form of autism -- and other learning difficulties get a college education or begin a career through local internships.

In addition to its campus in Lee, CIP operates five other educational facilities nationwide: Two in California and one each in Florida, Indiana, and New York.

"This is not about leaving Lee, but, for the first time, putting all our national staff in one building," he said. "Right now, they are spread among three different places in Lee."

McManmon noted the 8,525-square-foot, single-story structure at 199 South St. will double CIP's current office space.

"The whole building suits our needs," he said.


Advertisement

Meanwhile, Sinai Academy officials were optimistic they could quickly sell the school building six months after it shut down.

"The property was in good shape and in a good location," said Robyn Rosen, the academy's president of the board of directors. "We assumed it would sell and now that it has, we are all relieved."

CIP's acquisition of the South Street building continues the company expansion that began 18 months ago.

In June 2011, the nonprofit completed a $3.7 million restoration and renovation of the Baird & Benton block on Main Street in Lee, also known as the Bookless building. The vacant upper two floors of the 135-year-old, three-story structure were converted into classrooms and office space for CIP, with the first floor remaining commercial storefronts.

In addition, McManmon, through CIP, converted the former St. George's Episcopal Church on Franklin Street in Lee into a visual and performing arts venue for the public and CIP students. Following a year-long $635,000 renovation of the building, The Spectrum Playhouse and Joyous Studios began its first full season in July.

"It's nice to be part of the revitalization in Lee and now it's nice to be part of Pittsfield's revitalization," McManmon said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.