Local labor had big hand in hammering out details of 47 Railroad


This story has been modified to add the name of a co-owner of Alander Construction.

GREAT BARRINGTON — The top of Railroad Street has a new look in this town's center, and it took a lot of local hands to do it.

Developers of the 47 Railroad project say leases are signed for half its 13 high-end rental apartments and four commercial spaces.

To create their $7.5 million venture, Sam Nickerson and Ian Rasch of Framework Properties used an almost entirely local workforce of carpenters, tradesmen and subcontractors to gut and renovate the iconic building that once held Pearl's and Martin's restaurants, and to install an addition.

The two are working to prepare leases for the remaining apartments, for which there is a waiting list. The apartments will be ready in the next month.

Retail tenants include chef Annie Wayte and her new restaurant venture, The Fox, set to open in the fall. And a company that broadcasts online day trading courses, Warrior Trading, will open its second office.

Alander Construction, co-owned by Rasch and Roman Montano, opened up the wall in the alley connecting Railroad and Castle streets, and installed a large rooftop deck.

To aid the local trades, the project rented space in the old fire station on Castle Street to set up a millwork and cabinet-making shop.

Housing and trends

Rasch and Nickerson say they invested after learning of a shortage of housing at all price levels.

"The last building permit for an apartment building was pulled about 30 years ago," Rasch said.

His mother, now retired, will be one of the building's new tenants, so she can start to "age in place."

The 47 Railroad apartments range from $1,850 to "well over $2,000" per month, Nickerson said.

"We get calls from people willing to pay a lot," Rasch added.

Meantime, Rasch and Nickerson have embarked on a more affordable second project, Manville Place on Manville Street, just south of downtown. They plan a villagelike apartment rental complex with a courtyard and coffee shop, Nickerson said.

Groundbreaking for what will be about 40 to 50 apartments is scheduled to begin this summer.

Warrior Trading plans to open its office at 47 Railroad between May and June. Company owner Ross Cameron said the company's technology headquarters is in Sacramento, Calif. The Great Barrington office will start with four employees, and focus on products and support for those taking Cameron's day trading courses. He said he plans to grow the firm to 20 employees.

"It's such a nice small town — it's a nice place to work," he said. Cameron and his wife, Lauren, recently moved to Alford.

Wayte, chef/owner of the White Hart Inn of Salisbury, Conn., hopes a good rotisserie will be the draw for The Fox. The restaurant will have slightly fewer than 50 seats, with a small bar, prepared food sales during the day and a small provisions shop.

Wayte will begin to outfit the restaurant space for a fall opening. "I'm passionate about the sides," she said. "Simple. I'll make what I eat at home."

Two shops also will open in the new space.

Griffin, which sells new and vintage clothing, home goods, art, furniture, books and toys, will move from its current location on north Main Street. And Sarah Perlis, a New York-based jewelry-maker, will combine a studio with retail.

Two towns

Rasch said he is sensitive to the presence of "two narratives" in Great Barrington. One is that a rural economy needs all the help it can get; the other is that expensive real estate can price out many people.

He pointed to the millions of dollars spent locally that were generated by the project and its roughly 85 workers.

Framework, Alander and other employees provided an economic boost on their own, through money spent on lunches and supplies.

"For two years, the guys were going to Gorham & Norton," Rasch said, referring to the Main Street grocer and deli.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter at @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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