Sunday May 5, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- Dr. Lahey's Garden Center is closing out its 30-year-run on South Street, but its owners are determined to put down roots elsewhere in the Berkshires.

The owners, Maureen and Joe Corcoran, this week sold the 2.4-acre lot behind Guido's Fresh Marketplace for $455,000 to a developer who intends to build a $10 million hotel on the site.

The landscaping part of the business will be run on property they will lease from the Lee Premium Outlets, Maureen Corcoran said. The retail side of the operation, which will close on Sunday, will resume once a suitable location is found.

"In the fall, we'll find out where we're going to be next year," Corcoran said. "It's our intention to build the business.

Joe and Maureen Cocoran, who have owned the
Joe and Maureen Cocoran, who have owned the (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"

In April, Great Barrington lodging entrepreneur Vijay Mahida announced plans to construct a $10 million Hilton Garden Inn on that parcel. He expected to break ground this spring, and have the hotel completed by the spring of 2014.

Mahida on Friday said he has obtained demolition and foundation permits from the proper authorities and that an official groundbreaking ceremony has been scheduled for May 15.

According to the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, construction of the 95-room hotel is expected to employ 95 construction workers, and have a total impact of $16 million on the local economy.

Dr. Lahey's Garden Center opened on South Street in December 1980. Founder Gary J.


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Lahey was a plant doctor who held a doctoral degree in plant pathology from the University of Massachusetts. The Corcorans purchased the business in December 1999 from another entrepreneur who had changed the name to Berkshire Mountain Garden.

"We turned the name back because it was well-known in town," Corcoran said.

Mahida and a partner had originally expressed an interest in building a hotel on the garden center's property in 2006. But that proposal never moved forward because Mahida decided to expand the Comfort Inn and Suites in Great Barrington instead. Besides the Comfort Inn, Mahida also owns the Monument Mountain Motel. His brother, Pravinsinh Mahida, runs the Days Inn in Great Barrington.

Corcoran said they were interested in selling because they only used about a quarter of the 2.4 acre lot.

"We wanted to have something smaller so we could focus on what we could do," Maureen said. "We're happy that Vijay made an offer again.

She said the couple plans to expand both the gardening and landscaping sides of the business once they find a new location.

She developed the garden center's new business plan after taking a five-week course that was offered last summer by Mass. Growth Capital. Her plan received the $5,000 first prize in a contest sponsored by another financial group.

"We're totally psyched to move forward," she added. "It was a good offer, good timing, and the plan was right."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com
(413) 496-6224