Mayor Bianchi lobbies to keep Berkshire Flower Co. open
PITTSFIELD -- Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi is seeking an 11th-hour reprieve for a local florist who's being forced to close her shop -- by the city -- after 25 years in business.
By Dec. 31, Berkshire Flower Co. owner Bridget Brown must vacate the property she rents from Patriot Suites Inc. along Routes 7 & 20 because of a 15-year-old conservation restriction that Pittsfield has with the hotel owner.
The agreement calls for the florist shop to be demolished and the lot to be reclaimed as green, open space for the city's southern gateway.
Bianchi, based in part on public outcry against the shop's closing, says he plans to ask the Pittsfield Conservation Commission to extend the agreement for an undetermined length of time. He will formally present his proposal at the commission's Oct. 25 meeting. If approved, the proposal would head to the City Council for a final vote.
"The purpose of the extension is to allow [Brown] currently in business on the property to continue operating at that location," Bianchi wrote in a letter to the City Council.
He added, "Many members of the public have expressed their support for the continued operation of the flower shop."
Brown says she is thrilled to have the mayor's backing, support the businesswoman has lobbied for since Bianchi took office Jan. 2.
"All I wanted was to keep my job, now I want [the shop] incorporated into the greenway," she said. "I'll be glad to get more time."
Brown, through her landlord, Patriot Suites, has already been granted two extensions from the city since the land was to be conveyed to Pittsfield by June 7, 2010. The site is part of a larger property on Dan Fox Drive that Patriot Suites acquired in 2003 from the family of the late former owner, A. Gordon Rose. The real estate transaction included the transfer of the conservation restriction.
Brown has said her ideal scenario would be a 10- to 15-year extension to take her to retirement age.
Patriot Suites' local attorney, Stan Parese, told The Eagle two weeks ago that, to his knowledge, his client wouldn't object to another reprieve for Berkshire Flower Co.
The store opened in 1987 at the original home of Guido's Fresh Marketplace and the Berkshire Record Outlet. Initially, the building housed the Quarry Snack Bar from the 1940s to the 1960s.
The flower shop currently employs an average of three full-time employees, year-round. Her son, Levi, 20, and other family members and friends help out.
Many have publicly spoken in favor of keeping Brown in business, the latest support coming before the City Council two weeks ago.
"It just makes sense to save a small business in these economic times," Brown said.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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