North Adams again looking to shed properties including church, two former schools

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NORTH ADAMS — If at first you don't succeed, request proposals again.

The city is relaunching its effort to shed a number of properties assessed at a combined total of more than $3 million.

Among the offerings, which include several that failed to attract any bidders in previous rounds, are the former Nortre Dame Church and school building on East Main Street and the former Sullivan Elementary School on Kemp Avenue.

The Notre Dame property is valued at $1.2 million, while Sullivan is assessed at $2.1 million.

Two other properties, the salt shed on Ashland Street and a plot of land in Pownal, Vt., also will be put out to bid, according to a communication sent to the City Council by Mayor Thomas Bernard this week. The properties are valued at $114,900 and $378,300, respectively.

To city officials, selling the properties offers the opportunities to bolster city coffers, potentially add value to the tax rolls and spur economic development in unused properties.

Bernard's letter, which will be discussed during Tuesday's council meeting, details the timeline for selling the properties, beginning with the issuance of requests for proposals July 11, and execution of purchase and sale agreements with the winning bidders in September.

Each of the four properties was previously put out to bid under former Mayor Richard Alcombright's direction.

Alcombrigt's administration turned down the lone bid for Sullivan Elementary, which came in under the appraised value of the building.

Sullivan was closed in 2016, after the opening of the newly renovated Colegrove Park Elementary School in 2016. The school was then set aside as a potential temporary home for Clarksburg Elementary School students, but that idea was quashed when Clarksburg voters rejected a school renovation project last year.

Bernard said proposals for the former school would need to fit the residential character of the neighborhood and instill confidence in city officials that the plan is viable.

"The challenge is, it's a building that would take incredible amounts of work to address accessibility," Bernard said of the decades-old school.

The property with the second-highest value, the Notre Dame Church and School, did not receive any bids in the last round of request for proposals, nor did the land in Pownal.

But Bernard senses that there could be renewed interest in the Notre Dame property, which, he believes, could attract multiple bidders, given the increasing interest in development in the city and the property's proximity to downtown.

The salt shed received a $50,000 bid from Berkshire County Construction, which is headquartered nearby on Ashland Street. But the council rejected the bid last August, taking issue with the amount of the bid, which was less than half the appraised value of about $125,000.

At the time, the city was without a viable alternative for salt storage over the winter.

The city expects to set the deadline for responses to the request for proposals July 31 and, if necessary, return to the council for approval in late August or early September.

The timeline does not require approval from the City Council, but should Bernard choose to accept any offer that is below the assessed value of the property he would need the council to sign off.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.



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