Hotel on North, Onota 74 and Cable Mills win Tsongas awards for historic preservation

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Two projects considered essential to the revitalization of downtown Pittsfield, and a 134-year-old former factory building that was converted into apartments in Williamstown, have received the state's highest form of recognition for historic preservation.

Hotel on North and the Onota 74 residences, both on North Street in Pittsfield, and Cable Mills on Water Street in Williamstown, have received 2017 Paul & Niki Tsongas Awards from Preservation Massachusetts for their creative re-use of historic properties.

Hotel on North, Pittsfield's first boutique hotel, is one of three Tsongas Award winners in the Best Main Street Project category. The Onota 74 residences, a six-story former commercial building that was mostly converted into apartments, received the award for Best Use — Housing. Cable Mills, a three-story historic mill on Water Street that was also renovated for use as apartments, received the award in the Biggest Impact — Rural/Suburban category.

The three projects were all honored at an event that took place last week at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. A total of 22 projects across the state received awards in 17 different categories this year.

According to Preservation Massachusetts, the Tsongas Award competition is conducted to "showcase the importance, impact and valuable nature" of preservation both nationwide and across the state of Massachusetts.

The $14 million, 45-room Hotel on North is located in two former office buildings at 273-297 North St. that were converted into a high-end lodging establishment by co-owners David and Laurie Tierney of Pittsfield, who operate their own construction company. The two former office buildings, both built in the 1880s in what was known as the "Burns Block" during the 1960s, are located in an historic district. When Hotel on North opened in June 2015, it was Pittsfield's first new hotel in 47 years.

"We are extremely excited about the award," David Tierney said. "It's not just us winning the award, but it's starting to show that the state and people are taking downtown (Pittsfield) more seriously. The health of downtown is vital to the community, and it's nice to see people recognize that."

Hotel on North has also been designated one of the "Top 10 New Hotels in America" by Architectural Digest and was one of the lodging establishments honored in the outstanding service category of the 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards for Hotels. The Tsongas Award has a different meaning to the Tierneys than the other honors do.

"This is more of something special that's happening in the community," David Tierney said. "The other awards, the top 10, was not just about the building but the staff. This is more of the concept and the developers and people taking a chance to better the community."

The $14 million Onota 74 residences located at 64-74 North St., are located in the Onota Building which was originally built in the mid-20th century. Along with the Howard Building on Federal Street, it is one of two downtown Pittsfield structures that have been converted mostly into apartments by Allegrone Construction of Pittsfield (the first floors of both structures continue to house commercial space). Louis Allegrone, a principal in Allegrone Construction, could not be reached for comment.

In Williamstown, Cable Mills is located in what was originally a twine factory built in 1873 that also housed a variety of other industrial businesses.

Its last occupant, General Cable, closed in the early 1990s. The building has been sold twice since them most recently to current owner Mitchell Properties for $3 million in 2007.

Financing for the $26 million project came from a variety of sources, and includes both state and federal historic tax credits.

Reach Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski at 413 496-6224.


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