NORTH ADAMS -- An equity investors group has committed $1.6 million in private funds for the redevelopment of Heritage State Park into "Greylock Market," a mixed-use artisans center featuring a combination of retail, production, residential and community spaces.
Photo Gallery: Heritage State Park to be transformed into 'Greylock Market'
The new Greylock Market will feature artisan crafts and entrepreneurial food operations -- ranging from craft brewing, coffee roasting and cheese-making to glass blowing, fiber arts and a community kitchen -- organized in a "watch-it-be-made" experience.
Plans also include the creation of residential units in the upper floors of the park buildings and 15 to 20 live/work units in three park-associated buildings on West Main Street. Plans also call for the repositioning of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation's "Mount Greylock Welcome Center" on the south side of the park. The north side of the park, which includes the pedestrian footbridge, will be redeveloped to connect with a newly expanded southern entrance at Mass MoCA.
Mayor Richard J. Alcombright announced the partnership with Greylock Market LLC, the for-profit development company formed by the group of investors, at a press conference Wednesday, saying he was pleased with the vision of the group.
"We're at a very good place with this project," he said. "This is the right thing, at the right time with the right people. This is a very proud day for the city of North Adams."
The group of investors was identified by the nonprofit North Adams Development Trust Inc. Construction is expected to begin in late 2014, with a projected opening in the summer of 2015.
Blair Benjamin, who has been tapped as the president of Greylock Market LLC, said the group anticipates a total investment of $6 million, to be generated by the initial investment as it is used to leverage debt and secure tax credit financing and grant funding.
"The creation of Mass MoCA helped the city tap into an existing cultural economy and cultural tourism market within the region," he said. "This project will help cement North Adams' place in the latest evolution of the Berkshire County and wider regional economy, which is the growth of these artisan and entrepreneurial foods and crafts. This will help us go to the next level of the development of our economy in North Adams."
Nationally, the artisan-based economy has been identified as a $13.8 billion a year industry.
The project will also use an $880,000 MassWorks Infrastructure Grant, which was awarded to the city in 2012 but not released until a few weeks ago. The release of the grant followed the addition of the housing component to the project -- a key feature Alcombright had learned was being sought by Gov. Deval Patrick.
Benjamin said the addition of housing to the plans is also making the project more attractive to perspective artisans and investors and is a more feasible option.
Currently, the plans do not include spaces for the North Adams Museum of History and Science, Northern Berkshire Community Television or Mill City Productions, all current park residents. Alcombright said the city will work with those groups to identify new spaces for those organizations.
Benjamin, who until recently served as Mass MoCA's director of commercial real estate development, said he is being joined by Timur Galen, global head of corporate services and real estate for Goldman Sachs; James Hunter, a local philanthropist and Anders U. Schroeder, a Mass MoCA trustee, in the active management of Greylock Market LLC.
Greylock Market LLC is the for-profit development firm the principals of North Adams Development Trust Inc. stated they would create to develop the property in their bid for the long-term lease and development of the park. Alcombright said the contract is still in negotiation and is expected to be presented to the North Adams Redevelopment Authority, which owns the park, in the coming weeks.
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