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Days now numbered for former St. Francis rectory in North Adams, with demolition ahead

  • Updated

NORTH ADAMS — Dumpsters and a pile of rubble sit behind the former St. Francis of Assisi Church rectory, with some of its windows now removed. Plans are in motion to demolish the structure at the corner of Union and Eagle streets.

The property’s owners are doing a “selective demolition,” removing hazardous materials like asbestos before the entire structure is demolished, according to William Meranti, the city’s director of inspection services.

The owner, Colvest Group, has not yet applied for a demolition permit, Meranti said. “They are working on it,” he said Wednesday.

The company did submit filings for the initial hazardous material abatement to the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to Meranti.

No plans have been submitted for what might take the rectory’s place, he said.

The Historical Commission, which can get involved in the demolition of buildings more than 50 years old, has signed off on the demolition, according to Justyna Carlson, its chair. That’s one of a number of signatures needed for a demolition permit, Meranti and Carlson said.

As work started to be done on the property recently, Carlson heard concerns from the community. “I had gotten calls and emails over the weekend (from) people that were upset. As I said, almost everything in North Adams is 50 years old or older.”

Why is the rectory not historically significant? “It’s barely old enough to consider,” Carlson said. Built in 1964, the old building “almost didn’t come under our jurisdiction,” she said.

In 2018, the Colvest Group purchased the former rectory and the adjacent former St. Francis of Assisi Church property for $1.39 million.

“We just thought it was a good location and the town of North Adams was a good town,” Colvest Group President Frank Colaccino told The Eagle in 2018. “There are no plans for that property right now.”

Colaccino could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The developer still owns the building, according to property records.

A large Colvest sign on the property’s corner reads: “For lease/build to suit.”

When Colvest purchased the property, the adjacent church had already been demolished. It was razed in 2016 after a steeple partially collapsed. It was the city’s oldest Catholic church until it closed in 2008, amid the Springfield diocese’s push to consolidate churches as congregations declined.

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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