By Tammy Daniels
October 2, 2013
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Some $6 million in private and public funds will be invested over the next two years in Western Gateway Heritage State Park to capitalize on the growing — and profitable — artisan movement.
The 30-year-old park will be rebranded as “Greylock Market” to tap into its position as a gateway to Mount Greylock State Reservation and to better communicate its retail potential.
“What we have concluded is that the ideal use for Heritage Park is as a mixed-use artisan center,” said Blair Benjamin, president of Greylock Market LLC, the investment group formed to undertake the project.
“The artisan economy is taking off,” he said, in announcing the plans on Wednesday at City Hall. “We’ve been watching what’s going on in communities around the country, some near and some far.”
Benjamin said the park — including the former Sons of Italy property purchased by the city earlier this year, the footbridge (expected to be part of the bike path) to West Main Street, and the two city-owned houses on West Main — will be transformed into a mixed-use center including retail, artisan production spaces, 15-20 residential units and event programming.
Artisans ranging from cheesemongers to woodworkers will be able ply their trades in view of visitors and have access to a central retail marketplace. Longtime tenant Freight Yard Pub would partner with a microbrewery. The residential units will be marketed to artisans, similar to the way Eclipse Mill is marketed to artists, to create a community of artisans.
The market would also have a cafe or coffee shop and community kitchen, and link to resources including Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts, the new Berkshire Scenic Railway rides, the planned extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and the downtown.