Launch of Cloud 85 seen as a plus for downtown North Adams

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Photo Gallery | Cloud 85 opens in North Adams

Video | North Adams officials celebrate opening of Cloud 85

NORTH ADAMS - Cloud 85 is now open for business, and hopes are high that the new co-work office space also will draw attention to rest of the building at 85 Main St., which also has been upgraded with modern office amenities.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new public office space on Tuesday, Jeffrey Thomas, manager and partner at Cloud 85, addressed a gathering of local business and political leaders.

"We hope this will contribute to the economy in some way," Thomas said during his remarks.

He described the facility as "a place people can come a get work done at a low cost in a space that works for them."

Cloud 85 is essentially office space one can rent for as short or as long a time as is needed, for just one worker or more. There are 31 work spaces and two reservable private offices for meetings in the 1,370-square-foot office setting with modern amenities such as Wi-Fi, printers and fax machines.

The top tier of membership — at $230 month — also provides a permanent desk space. The next level, at $150 per month, allows for work space in a private carrel, group table or plush chair, with 24/7 access.

It's a concept that works well in urban areas like Boston and Albany, and local business leaders are watching closely to see how it works here.

The North Adams Chamber of Commerce already has signed up for a long term arrangement, and another half-dozen parties have expressed interest, Thomas said.

The building, which was built in 1900, is owned and managed by Scarafoni Associates. David Carver, real estate developer for Scarafoni, said his company and Cloud 85 both invested a great deal of time and money in the venture. The whole floor has been upgraded for modern amenities like new wiring systems, and a state-of-the-art HVAC system.

"There are hundreds of thousands of dollars invested on this floor, and you can't even see it — it's all behind the walls," Carver said.

Carver noted that Cloud 85 and Scarafoni Associates are basically marketing each other, as success for both can't happen without the other.

Ideally, entrepreneurs who work out of Cloud 85 will be able to grow their businesses into companies in need of more office space, either in 85 Main St. or elsewhere in downtown North Adams, which he said offers a good location and decent lease rates.

And that, in turn, could lead to further retail development.

"We're interested to see if there is a demand for high-quality office space in downtown North Adams," Carver said.

For nearly 10 years, Carver has been working on a plan for the six-story building: fill the bottom two floors with office and retail, the top two floors with residential, and see which of the two uses turn out growing into the remaining floors in between.

"We going to do whatever we can to help them succeed and expand," Carver noted. "If you're going to do it, do it right. Half measures aren't the way you want to position your downtown."

Main Street in North Adams has seen a number of ups and downs as businesses open and close over the years — most recently closings. But things are looking up; in addition to Cloud 85, a few new stores are set to open on Main or Eagle street in the coming months.

Williamstown architect Anne McCallum pointed out at the ribbon-cutting that the space is unique, with muted colors and a sleek, modern feel, yet it is still able to blend the feel of the area's industrial history. It includes chestnut wood from pews of the former Holy Family Church for desk surfaces and other design details, as well as doors from the former Plunkett Hospital in Adams and wood from the former Notre Dame Catholic School in Pittsfield. And the large windows offer panoramic views of downtown.

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said that business needs today are vastly different, and that catering to the new business world is essential to success.

"We can't get so hung up on the past that we can't move into the future," he said, "and this place screams that."

Contact Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.


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