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North Adams

A large, empty downtown North Adams building just sold. Meet its buyer and his vision

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NORTH ADAMS — When Andrew Fitch first saw for sale signs in the windows of an empty property at the corner of Eagle and Main streets, he thought, “Wow, that’s the best spot in town ... I hope someone does something great there.”

Now he’s working to make sure that happens. Last week, he purchased the vacant building at 117 Main and 3-5 Eagle streets for $200,000.

What will be in the space, Fitch is not yet ready to say, and he estimated renovations could take two years, but his vision includes some type of food in at least part of the property. A cafe and restaurant would be ideal, he said, sitting at a table in the empty space on Tuesday afternoon. ”Something for locals and tourists. I don’t want to turn off either crowd.”

There is some interest from possible tenants: Fitch said he’s talking to two restaurateurs about the property. “I’m not ready to commit to them yet until I know the construction timeline,” he said.

The ground floor storefront may stay one space, or Fitch may turn it into two separate spaces, and there’s also apartments on the second floor that are vacant and will be redone.

Previously, Mark and Robert Moulton owned the building and it was home to a pizza shop. Someone was interested in opening a restaurant in the property, but it was poor timing amid COVID-19, Mark Moulton, an owner of the next-door Moulton’s Hearing & Spectacle Shoppe, told The Eagle earlier this month. The building needed a lot of work, Mark Moulton said, and the brothers decided to sell it.

Fitch, 37, moved to North Adams in September and works remotely as a diversity, equity and inclusion project director for a tech company.

Two years ago, he was living on a sailboat in the San Francisco Bay and was preparing to move to Austin, Texas. Like many other people, though, the pandemic shifted his plans, and he went home to Marshfield.

Wanting to stay in the state, he checked out possible places to live, like Provincetown.

Andrew Fitch smiles for a photo

Andrew Fitch purchased the currently vacant property at the corner of Eagle and Main Streets and plans to revamp the space.

Before he came to North Adams in June, he had never heard of the city, but when he visited, “I fell in love with this place,” he said.

He likes that he can walk from his house to downtown to get coffee, the access to nature, the area’s art museums, and that it’s not far from his family. His summer visit also aligned with a Pride celebration. “That was awesome,” he said.

Fitch has long been interested in owning commercial property, and though he is excited about the downtown venture, he admits there is some risk.

“I am definitely terrified,” he said. “I think I’d be a fool not to be.” He knows he will have to put “a lot of money and sweat into this,” but, he added, it’s worth it: “I want to do bold, interesting things.” And he feels there’s opportunity in North Adams. “Now it looks like to me there is another Renaissance around the corner from us,” he said. “I want to positively contribute to that.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6272.

Reporter

Greta Jochem, a Report for America Corps member, joined the Eagle in 2021. Previously, she was a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is also a member of the investigations team.

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