NORTH ADAMS -- Creating the nonprofit North Adams Development Trust, Inc. as a means to raise financing and develop a proposal for a private developer to take over the management of Western Gateway Heritage State Park is only one of several items the Partnership for North Adams has in the works.
"The idea behind the Partnership has always been that of true community economic development, where we go out and engage with the private sector, identifying projects and matching them with investors," John B. DeRosa, president of the Partnership for North Adams, said Wednesday.
He said the three civic leaders named as the board members of the North Adams Development Trust Inc. (NADT) -- Bruce Grinnell, attorney; Malcolm Smith, entrepreneur; and Duncan Brown, retired CEO of Cederworks Inc. -- are all volunteers who have been working diligently to bring to life a proposal for the redevelopment of Heritage State Park.
The proposal, which passed the city's Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday, allows the nonprofit to negotiate a 20-year ground-lease agreement through a to-be-named for-profit limited liability company that would take over the management and maintenance of the park.
"Bruce Grinnell, Malcolm Smith and Duncan Brown have all been actively engaged in raising the initial investment funds and securing development partners," DeRosa said. They have been hard at work on several projects since the Partnership's inception and
Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said while the Partnership -- a collaboration of the city, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Mass MoCA announced in Jan. 2011 -- has seemed inactive, its board members have been actively seeking ways to bring private sector investments to the city.
"We need to have investment from outside of the public sector if we want to be able to move forward as a city," he said Wednesday. "When we began the Partnership, we were talking about investment and development opportunities around the churches, this complex, the Mohawk Theater and, in time, the Windsor Mill. These three men have stepped up, taken the lead through this new nonprofit and will eventually transfer it over to a for-profit entity."
Once the proposal is approved by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and the state Department of Housing and Urban Development, NADT would form the for-profit LLC to negotiate the terms of the lease. It will also partner with Mass MoCA to brand and market the real estate. The city would receive a payment of $750,000 for the lease and another $1.3 to $1.5 million in funds would be invested in the park's six buildings.
Upon the successful negotiation of the ground lease, the LLC would begin a redevelopment plan that would demolish the dilapidated Sons of Italy building, creating an attractive entrance to the park, including a parking area, green space with sculptures and the burying of power lines at the intersection of Route 8 and Furnace Street, at the base of the Hadley Overpass. The work would begin in the fall and run through spring 2013.
Exterior work would be done to the buildings, including painting and roof replacement beginning in the fall. Interior improvements would also begin in the fall and would be prioritized based on the start date of new tenancies.
"This is the first of hopefully many more exciting community development projects that we will help connect with private investors," DeRosa said.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email email@example.com.