East Street building being transformed into mini-mall

Sunday June 17, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The former home of the Pittsfield Rye Bakery on the corner of East and Elm streets has undergone a structural facelift, and is about to go into service as a mini-mall.

Purchased by the owners of Pittsfield Lawn & Tractor two years ago, the 46-year-old former bakery will become the home next month of a new Subway sandwich franchise -- the company’s fifth in Pittsfield, and 10th in the Berkshires -- and an outdoor store that is relocating from Lanesborough.

The sign for the Subway franchise has already been erected, but the shop isn’t expected to open until mid-July, said Albert Wojtkowski, who owns the building with his two brothers. Greylock Outdoor, co-owned by a cousin of the Wojtkowski brothers, is expected to relocate to Pittsfield by the end of next month.

Greylock Outdoor, which sells BMX bicycles, was one of several businesses offering cycling products that was interested in moving to the newly renovated building due to its proximity to the city’s new bike park across from Pittsfield High School.

"Just about every bike shop in the county contacted us," Albert Wojtkowski said.

The Wojtkowski brothers purchased the building for $152,900 in September 2010, two months after the owners of the Pittsfield Rye Bakery had sold it at auction. The Wojtkowski’s, who own buildings in St. Luke’s Square across the street, got a second crack at the structure when the original buyer defaulted on the transaction, then was arrested by U.S. Marshals as a fugitive from justice in connection with a string of alleged crimes in New Jersey.

Pittsfield Lawn & Tractor had submitted the second highest bid at the original auction.

"We wanted to make the neighborhood look better," Albert said.

Pittsfield Rye Bakery moved to its current location on South Street in 2007, so the structure had been vacant for three years when the Wojtkowski’s took it over. Albert said the brothers were reluctant to put any significant money into the building until they could line up tenants, although they did put in some large garage doors when an auto glass company expressed an interest in relocating there.

"We tried to keep it universal," he said. "It was a putting a puzzle together before the pieces kind of thing."

The current renovations began last year. Albert said the brothers have put some $300,000 into converting the building into a mini-mall.

"Basically, we tore the face off of the building," he said. "We reinsulated, put in new heat and air conditioning systems, and cleared out the back parking area. It was basically turning into woods."

They are currently repaving the parking lot.

"It was pretty much a total makeover," he said.

Also gone is the space that once housed the Pittsfield Rye Bakery’s coffee shop and retail operations. The owners of the bakery added that space, which jutted out towards East Street, when they moved there in February 1968. But they closed that area in March 2001 after it was struck six times by motor vehicles.

"We took that section off and a section in the back so it would be a squarer building," he said.

The former bakery was rebuilt after it was gutted by fire in 1984. It housed a plate glass business before it was a bakery.

"It’s actually back to the original building," Albert said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:

or (413) 496-6224
On Twitter: @tonydobrow


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