Redwood Hotel project to expand after North Adams Planning Board approves new wing

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NORTH ADAMS — Capitalizing on what investors believe is a demand for lodging in the Northern Berkshires, the Redwood Motel project is expanding.

The developer of the State Road motel won Planning Board approval Monday for a broader vision for the inn that will bring it to nearly 50 rooms, more than double the number it planned when purchased by an investment group last year.

The expansion was made possible when the developer, Beyond Place LLC, last week closed on a parcel directly to its east for $350,000. The additional space allows the developer to build a new wing of the motel that will hold 12 to 14 rooms in addition to the more than 30 rooms on the main motel lot already under construction.

"Our intention here is to really continue the language of the Redwood," said Ben Svenson, lead developer of the project and co-founder of Boston-based Broder Properties. "This motor-court type of a long, linear structure...that's such a part of the history of this region and promoting motor tourism."

The investors, which include Wilco bassist John Stirratt, hope to have the 47-room motel constructed and open next spring, when renovations at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts is expected to wrap up. Svenson noted other projects in the works, including a proposed model train museum in Western Gateway Heritage State Park, that he said are driving the demand for hotel rooms locally.

He said work must begin immediately in order to meet the construction schedule that will allow the new motel to open for business by next spring.

Since developers first bought the motel last year, they have purchased nearly 20 parcels of land on or near the Redwood Motel site, including 45 acres on the northern side of the Hoosic River and the Blackinton Mill on Massachusetts Avenue.

Although not a part of the developers' immediate plans, the newly acquired property--formerly the Stevens family farm--is mostly an open field but also contains a 200-year-old farmhouse and four-car garage that predate most of the commercial development in the area. There are no specific plans for the house and garage at this point, according to project manager Eric Kerns. He said developers are still considering what to do with those buildings. But if they want to use the structures for any business-related purpose, Planning Board approval would be required, according to Planning Board Chairman Michael Leary

A narrow piece of the parcel stretches even further east between State Road and the Hoosic River. The river plays an integral role on the developer's plans, which place a focus on the natural setting behind the motel by having each room's windows face north toward the waterway.

Though the eastern parcel is a residential zone, the building of the hotel is allowed because it is a continuation of a previous non-conforming use, according to Leary and Building Inspector William Meranti.

Svenson said the grander scale of the motel will allow it to have "a management tier that's of a higher grade." An 18-room motel would need only a couple of management staff, according to Kerns.

"The ability to start with that level of management and oversight is going to be really beneficial to the project," Kerns said.

Planning Board members asked questions about parking, traffic and the look of the new addition. They listed a number of conditions in approving the expanded project.

Svenson assured board member Kyle Hanlon and a neighbor to the project that the plan includes sufficient parking. Hanlon also asked if a traffic impact study has been completed, but there hasn't been any such research done.

Because there were no designs of the addition to present at Monday's meeting, board members asked the developer to bring drawings for approval before any construction begins. The developer must also submit a storm water management study that assesses the environmental impact of additional parking.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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