Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Informed sources--a giant leap up from rumor--inform me that Atkins Country Market, a South Amherst destination spot founded in 1887 is, finally, considering expansion via an additional location: the 14,400 square foot former Cowls Sawmill building in North Amherst, hence the designation Atkins North.
Since the sawmill building was constructed in 2004, after the original burned down from a lightening strike, and was built to be wide open with town water/sewer and sprinklers, the transition to retail is pretty much turn-key.
The building and surrounding acreage is zoned business so the change in occupancy will only require "site plan approval" by the Planning Board--far easier than a zoning change which requires a two-thirds vote of Amherst Town Meeting, an entity never know as business friendly.
By far the busiest business in South Amherst and top-ten town employer overall, a North Amherst Atkins operation would create bookend anchors for the entire town and attract new customers from far and wide--especially from up north. Daytrippers attracted to Yankee Candle--a tourist magnet in South Deerfield--would be tempted to make the short hop down to North Amherst.
With the Gateway corridor project--a joint effort between UMass and the Amherst Redevelopment Authority on the northern end of town center--reaching a critical point for a go-or-no-go launch decision, this positive development only a half mile on the other side of campus will clearly compliment the vision for a mixed use signature project on the former Frat Row.