Berkshire Co-op Market redevelopment plans raise concerns with neighbors
GREAT BARRINGTON — Benchmark Development has learned that redeveloping the Berkshire Co-op Market may take longer, and be more difficult, than previously thought, due to the project's proximity to property owned by Wheeler and Taylor Realty Co.
Monday's Select Board meeting was the first public hearing for a special permit for the redevelopment project at 38-42 Bridge St. The property includes the co-op, the old Laramee's Cleaners building to the west of the co-op and toward Main Street, and a parcel on the Searles Castle property to the south of the co-op.
But the developers' plans were dealt a blow on Monday when abutters Wheeler and Taylor delivered to them a letter raising these concerns about the building's construction.
"We're just concerned that conflicts will develop," said Peter Puciloski, the lawyer for Wheeler and Taylor.
The developers propose to restructure the site in two phases. During the first phase, they will raze the former cleaners and replace it with a three-story, mixed use building with a ground floor retail space for the co-op. Bridge Street's grade drops steeply from Main Street, providing space on the building's east end for a fourth, or ground, floor for the grocer.
The first floor is slated for retail and office space. The top two floors will host 22 market price condominiums. Units are already selling for prices from $377,000 on up. Once the co-op moves its inventory into the new space, its current location will be demolished and turned into a parking lot.
But Puciloski explained that from his client's perspective, it is impossible for the developer to construct on that part of their project without encroaching on Wheeler and Taylor's property.
"The project is too close to the property line," Puciloski said, referring to the southerly boundary of the cleaner's building.
In phase two, the developers plan to build another three-story building on the Searles Castle land to the south of the new parking lot. The developers propose using a right-of-way that runs down the west side of the current co-op building to stage construction for the new property, which will include 36 condo units and an underground parking garage.
The use of the right-of-way is also a problem, Puciloski said. The realtor has an easement for the right-of-way and the construction plans as shown will block that easement.
"We won't allow that to happen," said Puciloski.
Puciloski suggested continuing the hearing to a future meeting to allow the developers to respond to the letter.
Benchmark principal Brian Cohan agreed that more time was necessary, and the board concurred.
"We're clearly not ready to make a decision tonight," said board Chairman Sean Stanton.
The board continued the hearing until February 13 at 7 p.m.
Reach staff writer Eoin Higgins at 413-496-6236 or @BE_EoinHiggins.
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