Searles developer in default for missing payment to Great Barrington
GREAT BARRINGTON -- The developers of the Searles portion of the Searles/Bryant schools complex have been issued a notice of default by the town.
Developer RiverSchool Development LLC is in default for failing to make a May 1 payment of $640,000, according to Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin.
Tabakin said attorneys for RiverSchool have been meeting since the default notice was issued. She said the town is monitoring the situation, but that she prefers to see if the lawyers can "get their act together" and come up with a payment plan.
The company was formed by the Philadelphia-based corporation Canus Corp. Paul Rabinovich, vice president of Canus and the project manager for the development of the Searles complex, could not be reached for comment.
In 2009, RiverSchool announced an ambitious $19 million mixed-use plan for the former school building, that would include affordable housing and retail space. After almost a year of negotiations, the Selectmen in July 2010 approved the sale of the former Searles School to RiverSchool for $800,000.
The developer immediately made a downpayment of $160,000 on the property. The second phase of the payment, $640,000, had originally been due in early 2012. The Selectmen eventually extended that deadline to May 1 of this year. Any alternative payment plan would have to be approved by the Board of Selectmen.
The Southern Berkshire Community Development Corp. has a 10 percent ownership in the Searles project and is listed as a partner with Canus.
The CDC also has an option to develop the Searles annex, the two-story structure that connects Searles and Bryant. With the Searles project in limbo, plans for the Searles annex are also on hold, said Timothy Geller, executive director of the CDC, who declined to comment specifically on the project.
Meanwhile, the Jane Iredale Corp. is continuing its work to redevelop the former Bryant Elementary School, located behind the Searles building on the same property.
Town officials grew concerned when in 2010, one of the investors, Blue Wave Strategies, backed out of the project. But Iredale replaced that company as part of the development team, and the project is moving forward.
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