LENOX -- The area's hospitality industry boom continued this week with the unveiling of a high-end condominium development for Canyon Ranch, the nationally known destination health and wellness resort catering to celebrities and the affluent.
The 5.5-acre condo project proposed for the 119-acre property off Kemble Street would include 19 owner-occupied units ranging from one- and two-bedroom apartments to a pair of penthouse suites. The price for the units would range from about $1 million to $2.5-$3 million, said General Manager Reggie Cooper.
He told The Eagle that building the project would cost $15 million to $16 million. A 14- to 16-month construction timetable is anticipated, pending permit approvals.
The Planning Board, which will consider a letter of support, heard a preliminary presentation of the plans on Tuesday night. But the town's Zoning Board of Appeals has jurisdiction and is expected to consider special permit applications at a meeting next month.
Cooper told the board that the 18,000 square-foot condo project would add $290,000 a year in property taxes for the town, based on a total real-estate valuation of $20 million to $23 million.
Anticipated condo purchasers include current Canyon Ranch patrons who would get full access to the resort's services and amenities, including valet parking.
Cooper said there's a list of about 40 "very interested prospective buyers." He voiced hope that, once approvals are secured, construction could begin next spring or summer.
"They'll dine in their unit, in our dining spaces, or as some do, they'll go over the wall into the town of Lenox," said Cooper, spurring laughter among board members and spectators at Town Hall.
Canyon Ranch, which opened here on Oct. 1,1989, is centered on the former Bellefontaine mansion, which includes a dining room, offices, library and consultation rooms. All-inclusive winter season package rates range from $2,240 to $3,100 per person for a typical three-night stay, based on double occupancy.
Bellefontaine was built in 1897 and served as a private residence, seminary and boarding school. Having been vacant for decades, it was restored along historic architectural guidelines by Enid and Mel Zuckerman at a cost of $40 million as a New England spinoff of their original resort in Tucson, Ariz.
As detailed by attorney Philip Heller of Heller & Robbins in Lenox, the campus includes a gatehouse, a 126-room inn, a solarium which connects the mansion to the spa -- including an indoor gym, pool and tennis courts -- and three maintenance structures which would be replaced by the condo building.
The proposed condo building would be a new wing built into a hillside and attached to the mansion, with an enclosed glass walkway so condo owners can reach the rest of the facilities without going outside.
Heller described that connector, which he interprets as allowable under the town's estate-preservation bylaw, as a "critical issue, because if people can't get from here to there indoors, it negates the whole purpose of having this integrated in the wintertime."
The new building would be 2 1/2 stories, 41 feet high. There will be 38 parking spaces, including 19 underground. The maintenance buildings will be relocated.
A lot containing the 5.5-acre condo site would be owned by a condominium association, while the building's individual units would be purchased by the residents.
Architect Robert Harrison of Harrison Design Associates in Great Barrington told the Planning Board there would be two floors of individual one- and two-bedroom condo units, with two penthouses occupying the top half-floor under the eaves of the wood structure with a brick base.
It would blend into the existing buildings on the Canyon Ranch campus, said Harrison, adding it was "very unlikely" that the new structure could be seen from Kemble Street.
Trees to be taken down on the property are to be replaced by extensive re-landscaping, said Rob Hoogs of Foresight Land Services in Pittsfield. The town's Conservation Commission will be consulted because of nearby wetlands, he said.
He also explained that previous plans for a building housing 10 condo units had been approved by the town zoning board at a different location on the property, as well as an eight-unit apartment building -- both projects were not developed -- and existing staff housing counting as one unit will no longer be used for that purpose.
"This is a way of taking things that were previously approved, 25 to 27 years ago, from what could have been a very sprawling project to make it be something that doesn't have a visible impact from adjoiners but allows us to utilize the remaining development units as part of the overall parcel of Canyon Ranch," Cooper told the board.
"In terms of impact on the site and the land," said Hoogs, "I think this is a far better plan something that will fit very nicely with the established Canyon Ranch experience."
At a glance ...
Key facts about the proposed condo project at Canyon Ranch in Lenox:
Size: 19 units in an 18,000-square-foot building on a 5.5-acre lot. Building is 2.5 stories, 41 feet high.
Construction cost: $15 million to $16 million.
Construction timetable: 14 to 16 months beginning in spring or summer 2014, if approved.
Price of condo units: $1 million for one-bedroom up to $2.5-$3 million for penthouse suites.
Anticipated real estate valuation: $20 million-$23 million.
Expected property tax revenue for Lenox: $290,000 annually.
What's next: Lenox Zoning Board hearings to be scheduled in January.
Sources: Canyon Ranch; attorney Philip Heller; architect Robert Harrison; Rob Hoogs of Landscape Design Services.
To contact Clarence Fanto:
firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto