A Much-Needed Makeover Will Take Place At A Berkshire County Staple
A thriving building at The Pittsfield-Lanesborough border in it's hey-day has now become a "so-called" ghost town. The current owners of Berkshire Mall are pondering on the building's future as they plan to abandon plans for an indoor cannabis facility. Plans are in discussion to make the former shopping plaza as a potential housing center for senior care, which will include nursing, memory care and assisted living.
With trepidation, the obvious option would be to demolish the mall that was once a mecca for shoppers who searched for bargains while doing their walking at the same time (I miss Hills as this retail outlet always had great deals on just about everything in the store) The modification and only alternative for shopping would leave only the Target building standing and this proposal does not come cheap as they would implement funding of a $200 million investment in new construction.
Joseph Jones, the director of JMJ Holdings, told the town's Select Board they went against the idea of turning the facility into a cannabis outlet which included several factors, including an oversaturated market, which played into their decision to change course. Residents were given information about cultivation plans for the mall's interior.
In a recent interview with the Berkshire Eagle, Jones reiterated:
“We have encountered several issues, which include Target's refusal to remove or dissolve restrictions prohibiting cannabis. Secondly is the severe oversaturation and declining revenue of the cannabis market nationally."
JMJ Holdings has also reached out to local representatives on this revised proposal, which also included Congressman Richard Neal, and members of The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
Jones also stated the town of Lanesborough would reap the benefits from this revised direction regarding the building's future in the Berkshires:
“Perhaps the greatest benefit from this new development to the town is the creation of higher tax revenue than would have been generated through a cannabis facility. Our preliminary estimates are somewhere between $2.5 to $3 million in new tax revenue that would be going directly to the town of Lanesborough.”
These figures represent 25 to 30 percent of Lanesborough’s $11.06 million annual budget, as the move “should reduce the residents’ property taxes by the same.” Jones also promised to communicate with Town Administrator Gina Dario as plans take shape.
We have to address the real issues of what it’s going to take to take that property and make it to something that’s useful.“For the town of Lanesborough to have as its primary and biggest taxpayer a nonfunctioning mall is not good business sense.”
BOTTOM LINE: Berkshire Mall will NEVER be the same but this new direction could show us there is light at the end of this tunnel to refurbish a dilapidated property.
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Gallery Credit: Liz Barrett Foster