Thursday, August 15, 2013

The North Will Rise Again

Trolley Barn:  12,000 square feet 3 floors, mixed use (Kuhn Riddle Architects)

North Amherst is on economic roll these days with The Retreat a high end 190 or so unit student housing enclave finally starting to move forward, and last night's unveiling before the Conservation Commission of the new-and-improved Trolley Barn, a three story, 12,000 square foot, mixed use commercial building set where a trolley barn once stood.

Original Trolley Barn Cowles Road North Amherst, built 1897

And yes, a trolley barn is where you store a trolley (or two), long since vanished from the Amherst landscape. Well, except for those imitation ones in the downtown.

The 4,000 square foot first floor will be commercial/retail, and management is hoping to sign up a breakfast or coffee shop,  or Atkins Farm type operation -- something that helps to build community.

The other two floors will be residential although since Town Meeting shot down a zoning density tweak, the individual units will each be 2,000 square feet, fit for a Donald Trump.

Location, location, location

Since Town Meeting did pass zoning allowing for greater height the building was redesigned, removing dormers along the roof thus saving costs and providing more usable space.

North Amherst, because of its industrial past, was once dubbed the "Dirty hands district."

Cleaning up quite well in the modern era.  

Previous design with stricter height limits (Kuhn Riddle Architects)

 New banner Rt. 116 North Amherst


Anonymous said...

It sounds like a lovely project, but I have to ask . . .

Is there a market for more commercial space in Amherst right now? There's still vacancies downtown and elsewhere.

And frankly, given the town's wildly bipolar attitudes about encouraging business (they favor it on odd-numbered days and weekends, oppose it on even-numbered days and holidays) I'd be reluctant to locate within Amherst's borders when I can get a much more friendly reception in Hadley or Sunderland.

Anonymous said...

So Town Meeting shot down a zoning article that prevented smaller, more affordable residential units???

Someone needs to explain the logic of this to me.

Walter Graff said...

Bottom line is that as North Amherst grows with the retreat and other projects, North Amherst will offer more amenities from shopping, dining to gyms for students to work out. The cowls are offering a lot of land to leas and sell in North Amherst center and encouraging growth and North Amherst certainly needs it.

Anonymous said...

"The public safety hazard it presented was the main reason she cited for the demolition, as it could suddenly fall and do collateral damage."

Or, it could have been occupying a space for a development.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I believe it did "fall" (with only the slightest of help).

Anonymous said...

The students don't need a gym to work out in - they have a beautiful gym at UMASS that they pay for in student fees.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great project. Attractive too.

Walter Graff said...

Students like to get off campus. They like to be seen. It's no wonder the gym in Hadley is filled with students. North Amherst is closer to home, can offer the same and better social settings and start being a hipper place. It's about time the North side of town started to be a better place to go. A few more places to buy stuff and hang out sounds great.

Anonymous said...

The students don't need a gym to work out in - they have a beautiful gym at UMASS that they pay for in student fees

The reasonably-fit sophomoric 19-year-olds who are more interested in showing off their bodies than anything else don't need a gym -- and while they are the bulk of the UM student body, demographics that large create significant market niches which the "Deathstar" doesn't meet.

It has no pool. Graduate students pay equally-obscenely-high fees but different ones which means that they have to pay several hundred dollars to use any UM facility even once a semester.

And once you are on the far side of 25, the sophomoric antics of the adult-sized children tend to be annoying at best and often downright repulsive. This is every bit as true for the older UM students as it is for anyone else.

And there are some 20-year-olds,not yet old enough to drink, who are far more mature than professors three times their age -- and this includes, but isn't limited to -- someone who enlisted at age 17 and grew up fast in Iraq, or someone who got pregnant at 15 and grew up fast instead of falling into the stereotypical trap of dependency.

Cinda said...

Correction: The site will not be that of old Trolley Barn. The New Trolley Barn site is about 500 feet to the east of that old site, on the gravel lot between the two red cape cod houses on the North side of Cowls Road.

Thanks for advertising the space available! :) There will be commercial units between 1,000sf and 12,000sf hopefully available by Summer 2014. Each floor is 4,000sf. All 3 floors could be used commercially if there's tenant interest. Upper 2 floors will be leased residentially if there is no commercial interest.

We'd like to see on the first floor a high end market, a coffee shop, a breakfast/lunch joint. Second floor would be great for offices. The building will have an elevator. Call Pat Kamins or Micki Sanderson for details on leasing opportunities.

Anonymous said...

North Amherst Resident says:

Good Luck Cinda! Hope this is just the beginning of an overall neighborhood revitalization.

M.Silver said...

Things are changing very rapidly and this could be a big empty elephant or, equally, the central growth point. Trends to follow; indoor/outdoor markets. Dropping % of car usage by students. Aging baby boomers. A place for informal meetings, without the price tag of convention halls. Grounds for events, fairs, markets. Make it really pretty, and they will come. Make it ugly, and they won't.