State rejects $5.4 million grant request for Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum
NORTH ADAMS — In a setback for the proposed Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum, the state has denied an application for a $5.4 million grant to help get the project rolling.
The joint application for a MassWorks grant was submitted in August by the museum and the city of North Adams.
"They were not selected for this round," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, who was in North Adams this week to award a MassWorks grant to the developers of the Greylock Mill. "We continue to be very interested in the project and I'll be coming back to talk to them about it."
The funding would have been used to demolish the former Sons of Italy building on Christopher Columbus Drive, the site of the proposed museum, and rehabilitate the two-lane bridge that connects the site to the road.
"Had they owned the parcel, had they been a little further along in development, I think they would have won," said Mayor Richard Alcombright, who supported the application.
Proposed by Thomas Krens in 2015, the Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum was initially planned for Western Gateway Heritage State Park, but it was shifted south in May to the more accommodating Sons of Italy parcel, which is owned by the North Adams Redevelopment Authority.
The plans also call for a complete privatization and renovation of Western Gateway Heritage State Park and, eventually, redevelopment of much of the city's downtown.
The project could bring 1,400 permanent jobs to the area and generate more than $125 million of economic activity annually, according to an economic study commissioned by the developers.
Krens could not be reached for comment on the grant rejection.
The museum can apply for the same grant in the 2018 round if it so chooses.
The mayor said he supported the proposal because the Redevelopment Authority would benefit from the demolition of the Sons of Italy and reconstruction of the bridge, regardless of the future of the model railroad museum.
"If they were on a train out of here tomorrow, those two things still need to be done," Alcombright said.
Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at firstname.lastname@example.org, @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, and 413-496-6376.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.