North Adams OKs parking easement for Redwood developer

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NORTH ADAMS — The developer of the Redwood Motel and Blackinton Mill have received approval to use a city-owned parcel for additional parking for their proposed lodging and recreation facility.

The City Council on Tuesday granted the developer an easement for the adjacent Tannery location, which sits just west of the mill.

The group of investors, under the company Blackinton Mill LLC, struck an agreement with the city for an indefinite easement of the property for a one-time fee of $18,800. The parcel is assessed at $18,200, according to Mayor Richard Alcombright.

The parking easement is just one small step in a multi-faceted plan to revitalize the Blackinton Mill and Redwood Motel, which rest on opposite banks of the Hoosic River. The mill is on Massachusetts Avenue, while the motel is accessed by State Road.

The developer's first focus is restoring the motel, but it's also looking at options for future use of the Blackinton Mill. In the meantime, the mill is about half-filled with tenants.

"This is a piece that we think is going to play a good part of the puzzle for us, particularly for parking," said Erik Kerns, the project's manager. "There's a beautiful courtyard on the other side of this building that we want to make sure we can utilize."

After the sale of the mill is finalized, the developers will begin removing the "ghost-town look," clearing brush and junk out of corner lot, sprucing up front of the building, creating better environment for current tenants, Kerns said.

The Redwood Motel was purchased in April by the same developer, Broder Properties, but under the name Beyond Place LLC. It is undergoing an extensive $2.5 million renovation to transform it into a 21st century, 30-room motel that retains many of the historical touches of a motor inn.

Broder Properties expects to close on the purchase of the Blackinton Mill at some point this month. Given the mill's proximity to the Redwood Motel, the developer envisions a multi-use complex that also takes advantage of recreational opportunities near the river.

The group leading the development includes Ben Svenson and his brother Eric Svenson; Wilco bassist John Stirratt, Dana Nielsen of Broder Properties, Scott Stedman of Brooklyn Magazine, Simeon Bruner of Bruner/ Cott Architects, Bigs Waterman with Waterman Excavating and project manager Eric Kerns.

In a letter to the City Council encouraging it to approve the easement, Alcombright wrote: "The scope of the development within this entire project and within the West End is immense and I would respectfully request that council grant this easement as presented."

The easement would allow the city to control development of the parcel, and it would have to sign off on the construction of any building on the site.

Councilor Eric Buddington, who was the only of seven councilors present to vote against the agreement, said the easement was a complicated legal document and advocated for a straightforward sale of the land.

Buddington noted that, as per the easement, the city retains liability for the pollution on the land.

Alcombright responded that the site had previously been remediated, but it will continue to be liable for annual testing.

"At this point in time it's not a significant issue," Alcombright said.


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