ITAM Lodge poised for sale, expansion, pending Conservation Commission OK

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PITTSFIELD — The owner of a luxury lakeside retreat is aiming to purchase the former ITAM lodge and turn it into a banquet hall, primarily for destination weddings.

Eric Taylor, who also owns The Lake House in Lanesborough, said he expects to close on the property next week, at which time he'll begin renovating and expanding the existing building on the shore of Pontoosuc Lake. The plan is to close for renovations over the next several months and reopen in August.

Sons of Italy ITAM Lodge 564 put its longtime home on the market in July, citing aging membership and dwindling revenues. The 16,000-square-foot building on Waubeek Road, originally offered up for $1.7 million, has housed the ITAM for 40 years. 

Taylor declined to say how much he plans to pay for the building.

The plans were revealed Thursday during a meeting of the city's Conservation Commission, which is reviewing the impact of the grading changes, stormwater discharge and tree removal on the property.

About a dozen abutters who gathered after the meeting to catch a glimpse of initial drawings expressed concerns about parking and crowding along the narrow lakeside roads.

Taylor said he aims to address existing parking issues by reducing the capacity from 550 people to 325, adding 10 parking spaces, bringing the total parking capacity to 118, and by shuttling guests to and from The Lake House, which is on South Main Street (Route 7), also set on Pontoosuc Lake.

His plan calls for the removal of 20 white pine trees from the ITAM property.

"They've lived out their life," Taylor said, adding that limbs frequently fall there.

He said the trees pose a safety hazard and also obstruct his plans to make space for lakeside matrimonials. The "backbone" of the business will be for out-of-towners, Taylor said, but he also would like to host local weddings.

Commissioners decided to delay the public hearing until their next meeting, Feb. 8, because not all the abutters were properly notified before the meeting. 

Also Thursday, the commission approved a plan by Brixmor Property Group to demolish the now-defunct Old Country Buffet at Berkshire Crossing for the purposes of building a new restaurant. But it delayed deliberation on reconstruction because changes were made to the plan before commissioners had a chance to review them. 

A spokesperson for Brixmor Property Group declined to say which restaurant might be moving into the city. 

"We are working to add a new tenant on an outparcel at Berkshire Crossing, but we are not yet able to share details at this time," Kristen Moore said on the company's behalf. 

The building has been vacant since Old Country Buffet closed abruptly in February 2016.

Reach Amanda Drane at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter or at 413-496-6296.


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