LENOX — A major mixed-use downtown development is moving full speed ahead now that a written zoning board decision approving Nathan and Kathryn Winstanley’s Windrose Place condo and commercial project is final.
No appeals were received during the 20-day window after the decision was filed at Town Hall.
The plan, first unveiled for the town’s Historic District Commission in November 2019, has cleared all legal hurdles. A lawsuit against the Winstanleys and the Zoning Board of Appeals filed last February by local architect Jim Harwood has been withdrawn.
The project calls for renovation of the 1790 Northrup House, formerly the site of the now-closed Winstanley Associates marketing firm, and the construction of three new buildings on the 3.26-acre property at 114 Main St.
The ZBA first approved a site plan and special permit in January 2020, but it had to revisit it and issue a final decision under an order from Berkshire Superior Court in response to the original Harwood appeal.
The preliminary estimated construction cost ranges from $15 million to $20 million.
Financing from multiple investors is being raised, Winstanley told The Eagle this week.
“We’re trying to put the whole package together right now. I’m very optimistic,” he said.
“The project is well underway,” he added. “We’re doing a deep dive to get a hard number on what it’s actually going to cost to build.” A letter of intent has been signed with a general contractor based in the Springfield area.
“We’re working diligently on a sales strategy,” Winstanley said. “There are people very interested in moving in with the lifestyle of parking their cars and walking to the village.” The development includes extensive garage parking and an outdoor parking lot for condo owners.
The residences, expected to be priced near or just above $1 million, already have attracted interest from potential buyers, he stated. Construction might be completed about two years from now.
Several street-level businesses and two second-floor apartments would be housed in one of the new buildings at Main and Franklin streets, the northern end of the historic village’s central business district.
Michael Balaban, managing director of Winstanley Architects & Planners in Alexandria, Va., will be the project developer. The firm, which specializes in restoring and repurposing historic properties, is owned by Michael Winstanley, Nathan’s brother.
As former president of Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group East, Balaban oversaw projects worth more than $1.5 billion, including hospitality, mixed-use, multifamily residential, and office and retail properties. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School and a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Demand for properties in Lenox and surrounding communities has increased as a result of the COVID pandemic, Nathan Winstanley said. “It’s going to be accelerating the sales of the units.”
He expects that some will be under contract as construction begins so purchasers can customize their condos, with pricing based on various sizes of two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.
Real estate professionals in the region have confirmed that urban and suburban residents from the New York and Boston metro areas have been eager to put down roots in areas like the Berkshires, Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard as remote work has become more feasible, depending on availability of high-speed internet.
The Windrose Place project has been touted as a boost for downtown Lenox retailers and restaurants, as well as a property tax infusion into Town Hall coffers.
“I love Lenox, and I think this is going to be absolutely perfect for the village,” Winstanley said. “It’s going to give it a new vibrancy, and that’s what the town needs. We’re going to see investment into the north end, and I can’t wait to get going on this.”
In its written decision by member Shawn Leary Considine issued last month, the ZBA determined that the project:
• Meets community needs as an investment in the village center within easy walking distance of locally owned restaurants, retailers and professional offices, augments year-round activity with a beneficial financial impact on the downtown area, and wins the support of the Historic District Commission by preserving the 1790 Northrup House while reflecting the historic character of the town and many of its structures;
• Will not result in a burdensome or harmful increase in traffic, while parking will be in garages and off-street spaces;
• Will not exceed the capacity of municipal water and sewer;
• Has no negative impact to neighborhood character or social structures, as it will be in harmony with existing surrounding uses of downtown Lenox while supporting the zoning bylaw’s intent to allow for by-right multifamily development to encourage further residential and/or mixed-use development to support local businesses and help maintain a year-round sense of vibrancy and place;
• Has minimal impact on the natural environment;
• Increases the 114 Main St. property value, yielding an increased tax assessment and tax base, with an estimated $200,000 to $250,000 in local tax revenue while local contractors and businesses benefit and municipal services are not negatively impacted.