© 2023
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

North Adams To Auction Off 10 City-Owned Properties

The seal of the the city of North Adams, Massachusetts
North Adams

On October 15th, North Adams, Massachusetts will hold an auction for 10 city properties. The outdoor event will be held at Joe Wolfe Field, with seven residential properties, two business properties, and one zoned for urban renewal up for bid. The most expensive asset on the list is a 7-unit apartment building on Union Street, valued at over $108,000, while the least expensive is a $7,000 lot on Church Street. Mayor Tom Bernard tells WAMC that the move is part of a larger distribution strategy to move city-owned properties into private hands – and back onto the tax rolls.

BERNARD: The auction properties are primarily vacant parcels or residential properties that the city has taken in tax possession that we have the opportunity to auction. So we're doing this with a small group of properties to do two things. One, to kind of kickstart this process and prime the pump and then to gauge the interest in the community for for some of these properties. So again, we identified 10, which had some, we thought had potential interest and some some value to neighbors and abutters. And we will put them out for auction and see what happens.
WAMC: Do you have an example from that list of 10 of a public property that would be better used in the private market?
Sure, so of the of the 10, two of them are properties with residential structures on them. So you know, one of them is up on the the Mohawk Trail the near the town of Florida. It has a it has a single family structure on it. So that would be something that it would need, it would need renovation, but it would be something that could be put back into someone's, you know, into... back to residential use. And then others are, you know, smaller, in some cases, non-conforming lots that could be used for, you know, for abutters to you know, do a yard expansion, a structural addition or parking or recreational use. So again, we've done a little prospectus that's available on the city website that gives a one pager on each on each property and the condition to go along with the legal notice to give folks a little more sense of what these look like.
So what's the strategy at auction? How are you going to entice the right investors to make this a profitable turnaround?
You know, again, I think by and large, for many of them, the audience is the the abutters. So getting the getting the word out that the auction is happening, getting it into the neighborhoods. Again, you know, this is one of those kind of interesting places where things converge. We recently launched the new city website, which allows us to put different kinds of information. So the community development folks again, did these, you know, did these one pagers which give you a profile, so we'll be we'll be pushing those out, you know, through that, through the press, through social media. So a little bit more than what would simply be a public notice in the in the newspaper to gauge interest and get the, you know, get the message out. And you know, the other thing I'll say about some of the parcels that we chose this time is we identified parcels where we know there is interest. So, again, we're kind of kickstarting a process. We'll look at a larger auction, probably next spring. But these, you know, these are ones where we're fairly confident the interest is there, and we'll have the ability to move on.
As far as communicating with the community and ongoing concerns around cost of living in the city, has there been back and forth of the city and groups were looking out for for those concerns around say gentrification or cost of living in downtown North Adams?
You know, I think right now, the bigger concerns everywhere, are about, you know, affordability, and what happens if the state allows the, you know, the rent moratorium to expire. So I'm concerned about that issue. But you know, I think we have to kind of make a make a distinction between between affordability and cost of living, and then gentrification, which is a really loaded word. But right now, it's about, you know, this particular action is about these properties that are not being productively used being put back onto the tax rolls. So again, that's another form of affordability, right? So, properties that we're holding on to that we see no return from, we'll see a small return as they get put back into the, you know, into the public use. So I can't tell you, because these are, you know, a small number of properties. But you know, you do these things enough, and you combine it with the other strategies that were, you know, that we're looking at, which is to say, you know, RFPs of larger properties, you know, abutter sales, just taking taking all of these tools together, putting these things back on the tax rolls. And that's a way of helping with affordability writ large for the whole community.
You've talked a lot about your desire to see the Mohawk Theater included in the RFPs to get, you know, bought up by a private entity. Any progress on that front, or is that going to be included in this effort?
That's going to be included in the in the larger plan of disposition of properties. It's one that's not, you know, that we haven't put the RFP out on, but we're, you know, we're hoping to do that fairly soon.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
Related Content