New majority stake holder for Spring Lawn after $4.5M deal
LENOX -- The former principal owners of the Spring Lawn property on Kemble Street now have a minority stake in its new ownership group.
Kemble LLC, consisting of James Jurney Sr., his son, James Jr., and daughter-in-law, Gwendolyn, recently sold the 29-acre parcel for $4.5 million to Spring Lawn Partners LLC of Old Greenwich, Conn., according to documents filed at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield.
The Jurneys have owned the property since 2005, and have always been interested in turning it into a resort.
James Jurney Jr. said the new partnership is still being formulated, but that it contains equity investors whom he declined to name who have experience in resort and real estate development. The final cost of development has been estimated at between $15 million and $20 million, which Jurney described as "a pretty fair assessment."
Longtime Lenox resident Robert Coakley is also part of the new ownership group.
"We're still involved in an ongoing basis as a member of this ongoing partnership," Jurney Jr. said. "We have a minority interest. We don't necessarily run the show anymore."
Forming a new limited liability corporation was done as "a matter of convenience," Jurney Jr. said, due to the addition of the new partners.
According to Jurney Jr., the new entity does not own Clipston Grange, one of several buildings on the property that were owned by Kemble LLC.
The Jurneys live in Clipston Grange, and that building was separated from the rest of the property when the sale was completed, Jurney Jr. said.
The property includes four other buildings, including the 30-room, 30,000-square-foot Spring Lawn mansion. The mansion was originally a Berkshire "cottage" built for as a summer home by New York City railroad and steamship magnate John Alexandre. Alexandre first occupied the home in 1902.
The Jurneys purchased the parcel from Shakespeare & Company for $3.9 million nine years ago. The land was originally part of the 62-acre lot that Shakespeare & Company purchased from the National Music Foundation for $3.5 million in 2000.
In December, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the Jurneys' master plan for a 95-room, 14-building resort at the 29-acre site.
Attorney John Gobel of Pittsfield, who represents Spring Lawn Partners LLC, said the new group plans to come back before the town to seek more specific permits, particularly for the mansion, which is scheduled to be renovated for use as an inn and public restaurant during the initial phase of the two-part project.
Over the years, the mansion has served as the private residence for two separate wealthy moguls; a dormitory/administrative center for a boys' boarding school; as part of campuses run by both religious and music organizations; and most recently as a theater by Shakespeare & Company.
Jurney said he isn't sure when the new partnership plans to present those more detailed plans to the town. The initial phase of development also includes the renovation of the property's 10,000-square-foot carriage house into a fitness center and spa.
"There's nothing finalized yet on the timing for that next round of applications," Jurney said. "We have kind of a generous window. We're looking at within a year. It will probably not be this year. There's a chance things could go forward more quickly, but it's just a lot of work."
Gobel said plans call for the property to be developed into a high-end resort comparable to nearby Cranwell Resort, Spa & Golf Club or the Wheatleigh Hotel.
"It's going to be a big investment," he said.
The Jurneys had originally intended to seek financing from banks to develop the property into a resort, but Jurney Jr. said those plans fell through after the economy collapsed in 2008.
"We're lucky that we've found people that have the same vision" the Jurneys have for a resort, Jurney Jr. said. "The vision we proposed to the town is pretty much the same vision that we proposed in 2004."
To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
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