NORTH ADAMS -- Goodwill Industries is all clear to open up a branch at a vacant building on State Street, city officials ruled at Monday night's Planning Board meeting.
Frank Engels, chief executive officer of Goodwill for the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, made the pitch to city planners at the meeting, naming Nov. 1 as the target date for opening.
The Planning Board's approval was for a special permit request filed by the organization on the commercially zoned property at 166 State St., owned by City Council President Michael Bloom. The agreement was described Tuesday as a "long-term lease" by Bloom.
"They want to be a bigger part of community and they like the idea of being closer to downtown and our neighborhoods," he said.
Engels Tuesday said the future store would be "similar to the new store that just opened on Dalton Avenue [in Pittsfield]" and, compared to the Howland Avenue Goodwill store in Adams, "better racking, better displayed merchandise, better lighting and better signage."
"It's a nice building with a suitable, large square shape," Engels said. "When you walk in, there's a pleasant feel."
Donations will be taken at one of the building's side entrances.
Engels also said a separate room in the building would be reserved for the Goodwill's "Suit Yourself" program, which helps local job seekers by providing clothing, consultation and help with writing resumes. The store will also
"We're committed to bringing more and more programs to North County," Engels said.
Planning Board Chairman Michael Leary was in agreement with the proposal after Engels' presentation at the meeting.
"I thought it was a good fit for the community," Leary said Tuesday. "[The board was], I think, all equally impressed with the planning and what they're going to be doing in the building. It's not strictly for the sale of donated items. There's also new work components. They put together a really compelling program."
The future of another of the Goodwill's branches, however, remains uncertain. Engels said he's "not yet made a decision" about Adams' Howland Avenue store.
"Right now, it's remaining open, and I'm continuing to work with the numbers and trying to figure it out. A decision will probably be made after a board meeting that's scheduled for later in September."
Regarding the city's new store, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said plans to find a location have been in the works for over a year, with talks regarding Bloom's building beginning four to five months ago.
He said Tuesday he's pleased city residents will have an extra stop "to find things of value."
"If you look at the city, certainly there's a need," Alcombright said. "The economy -- all the stores, retail businesses and everything else -- is built to serve the population you have. ... It'll fit and, I think, do very well."
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