Renovating old structure, instead of building new one, will save costs for Harriman-and-West administrative building

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NORTH ADAMS — Instead of erecting a new airport administration building, the city plans to move the former Northern Berkshire Family Practice building on State Road within the Harriman-and-West Airport.

The plans, approved Monday by the city's Planning Board, halve the projected cost of a new administration building that will house offices and a public restaurant.

"It's an adaptive reuse of an existing building that, if this were not being done, would more than likely be demolished," said project architect David Westall.

Two years ago, the airport was approved for a $4.2 million administration building, funded by a $4 million grant and a required $200,000 match by the city. The project, delayed for a year because of funding constraints, is part of an effort undertaken in 2014 by the state Department of Transportation to build or renovate administration buildings at 17 airports across the state.

Under the new plan, the city is committed to a $100,000 match of the now $2 million grant.

Previously, the city's anticipated match was to come from Harry Patten, owner of Turboprop East, who pledged $200,000 as a match in 2016. But Patten pulled his pledge last month amid ongoing controversy at the airport.

Mayor Thomas Bernard has met with Patten, who remained committed to withdrawing his donation. In lieu of Patten's money, Bernard said the project would need to secure an appropriation through the City Council.

Though in a different building, the plan for its use is the same, featuring administrative offices for the airport and a restaurant that will be open to the public.

"This is just a spinoff of that original building," said Thomas Mahoney, director of airport engineering for the MassDOT Aeronautics Division.

The 8,700-square-foot office building, which sits on airport land once leased by the former North Adams Regional Hospital, was donated to the city by Berkshire Health Systems, which acquired it through U.S. Bankruptcy Court proceedings. The physicians' practice that operated out of the building moved to the North Adams Campus of BMC several years ago, leaving the building vacant.

It will be moved into the location previously slated for the new administration building.

The existing building will receive new exterior siding, a new roof, new windows and a new enclosed exterior stairwell.

"It's a slightly different footprint, a slightly different size, but it's proposed to be in the exact same area and virtually the same parking layout," Westall said.

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


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