Berkshire Roots submits application to build new marijuana facility at location of old Ken's Bowl

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PITTSFIELD — A local cannabis company is seeking to expand its operations by demolishing a bowling alley that had closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and building a marijuana cultivation and processing facility in its place.

Berkshire Roots has submitted an application to the city to build a two-story structure at the location of Ken's Bowl, 495 Dalton Ave. The plans were submitted by KO Resources LLC, which according to Cannabis Control Commission filings owns Berkshire Roots, and call for Ken's Bowl to be demolished and a cultivation facility built in its place, according to city Permitting Coordinator Nate Joyner.

The proposal will go before the Community Development Board for review at its meeting on Tuesday, with final local authority resting with the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Berkshire Roots is attempting to create what City Planner Cornelius Hoss called a "hub" for growing and processing its products on Dalton Avenue. It is currently building a three-story structure close to its Dalton Avenue retail location. The three-story building received approval from the city in November 2019 and Hoss said it too will primarily serve as a cultivation facility once completed.

"This is a pretty big operation that will end up creating a lot of decent paying jobs," Hoss said. "This is an organization that, if this site is approved, all of the sudden becomes a pretty large employer in the city."

According to Joyner, cultivation would take place in all three buildings in line with the company's intent to expand its cannabis canopy to up to 100,000 square feet, the maximum allowed for a single licensee in Massachusetts.

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"They're maxing out their canopy and doing it here," he said. "It's a new one for us, because we haven't seen this amount of grow proposed all together like this."

According to the company's application, the new building would be about 100,000 square feet split between two stories. Joyner said building plans appear to show that an enclosed walkway would connect the new structure at the former Ken's Bowl with Berkshire Roots' dispensary and cultivation site in the former Salvation Army Family Store.

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Requests for comment from The Eagle that Berkshire Roots Senior Director of Marketing Holly Alberti said she forwarded to the company's executive team were not returned on Monday. The owner of Ken's Bowl, Jerry Gillette, did not respond to a phone call or message seeking comment on Monday.

However, when reached by The Eagle in early August, Gillette said his business was closed due to the coronavirus though he hoped to reopen, but due to finances and logistics could do so only if he were permitted to reopen "at full capacity."

"Everything's up in the air," Gillette said at the time, during an interview in which he was highly critical of what he described as the negative consequences of the state's public health restrictions on the health of his business. "I was having a great, great year, then they closed me down March 16."

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About 20,000 square feet of the company's existing facility at 501 Dalton Ave. is used for cultivation, processing and packaging, and about 3,000 square feet serves as retail space, according to its application. The three-story building under construction will house a 26,000-square-feet cultivation facility once completed.

Ward 2 City Councilor Kevin Morandi said he has heard from constituents about odors they said emanate from the existing cultivation and processing operations, and about concerns they have about the proposed expansion's impact on local traffic.

"These are very quaint little neighborhoods, and they want to keep it that way," Morandi said. "The question for me is, how many [cannabis facilities] do we really need in Ward 2?"

Early top investors in Berkshire Roots were Matthew C. Feeney, Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and Albert S. Wojtkowski. The company opened an adult-use dispensary in Boston in late July, becoming the second recreational dispensary to open up shop in that city.

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com, on Twitter @amandaburkec and 413-496-6296.


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