The new downtown of North Adams? Norad Mill owner thinks so

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NORTH ADAMS — Now that two years have passed, David Moresi is running low on leasable space at the Norad Mill.

When he bought it for $47,500 in 2017, it was completely vacant. Since then, he has invested about $1.5 million clearing it out and subdividing the space into leasable units. Over that time, as the work continued and more spaces made ready, a number of businesses started to move in, even during the first year. Today, the mill is nearly totally compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with an elevator installed and operational and restrooms and ramps appropriately redesigned and installed.

What started as a five-year plan has accelerated into a two-year accomplishment.

The North Adams Planning Board granted special use permits recently for four new businesses that want to move into the mill. That will bring the number of business there to a total of 41 tenants.

According to Moresi, once they come in, he is going to have to juggle a few tenants and storage units to free up more space for several other interested parties.

"We get calls every day," he said. "They all want to be in North Adams. It's the strangest thing, and it's very encouraging."

In less than a year, Moresi and Associates had signed 22 leases with businesses wanting to locate in the 100,000-square-foot historic 19th-century facility, formerly known as the Excelsior Mill, which he has rebranded as the Norad Mill.

For example, Freia Yarns relocated to North Adams from California, bringing about 12 jobs. The company, which specializes in producing hand-dyed yarns, has international distribution and first connected with Moresi in 2017. It now lives in a 4,000-square-foot space in the mill.

Moresi Commercial Investments bought the mill from Crane Currency in Dalton for $47,500 about two years ago. When he first embarked on his purchase of the mill, Moresi said, "we didn't know what it was going to be."

As for the rapid response of interested businesses, Moresi is as surprised as anyone.

"We can't explain it," he said. "But it shows there is truly a palpable resurgence in North Adams — there is a lot of stuff happening."

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The types of tenants are varied. They include artist studios, manufacturing spaces, financial services, retail spaces, an event space, and supplemental storage for such entities as Berkshire Medical Center and Williams College.

As a result, some of the businesses work with each other — getting their computer help from the Computer Bug, or buying supplies and services from each other. And some of the retail businesses are complementary, such as the candy shop, the record store, the yarn shop and an incoming retail clothing and gift store.

There are more than 150 people working there now, and as a result, they all have certain needs during the day. So Moresi is installing a small cafe to cater to tenants, their employees and their visitors.

"Some people aren't going to be happy with me when I say this, but I think this is the new downtown of North Adams," Moresi said.

The new businesses granted permits to operate are:

- Woodstock South is a retail store that features tie-dye shirts, dresses and jeans, along with other clothing items, handmade yard art, pottery, incense, and memorabilia from the 1960s and '70s. The store is trying to relocate to North Adams from Ormond Beach, Fla.

- Artworks would serve as a community art studio and host classes, workshops and art therapy sessions.

- Buckleberry Foods is a small dessert manufacturer specializing in products that are vegan and gluten-free.

- North Point Brands would be doing business as "Cheeky Fishing," and it produces specialized fishing reels and outdoor gear that it sells wholesale to retail operations nationwide.

Moresi said that foot traffic in the building is growing, especially on weekends.

"We're very proud of what we've done here," Moresi said. "These types of [mill] developments will be the future of this region."

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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