A major mill redevelopment project in North Adams, Massachusetts continues to expand.
Back in August 2018, the NORAD Mill on Route 2 just west of North Adams, Massachusetts had leased out all of its space to businesses from across the country. Now, the developer behind transforming the 19th century industrial space and its over 100,000 square feet into an economic hub says the project has taken another step forward.
“As we’ve been saying for some time, the mill keeps self-evolving. The mill dictates what our development plan basically is," said David Moresi, of Moresi & Associates – the real estate development and property management company that bought the mill in 2017 for around $47,500. He says the company has invested around $1.5 million in the project.
“We are very proud of the fact that this has been a private funded venture with our strong banking partner of Mountain One Bank," said Moresi. "We do make it known that we don’t look with this particular project for government handouts, we didn’t go for any tax breaks. That’s the type of stuff, these are the type of developments that are truly going to transform North Adams.”
The development was supposed to take five years to wrap up. Now, Moresi says a new round of businesses are moving in from around the country – California and Florida to Vermont and the Boston area – and the mill is running out space years ahead of schedule. Around 40 businesses now call it home, and Moresi expects the full tenancy to be around 50 by the end of the summer.
“We’ve decided to develop a portion of the building we never anticipated on developing which we call Ground Level West, which is about 10,000 square feet of space – at this point, 85 percent committed to,” said the developer.
By July 1st, Moresi intends to have tenants installed in the new wing of the building.
“Everybody’s basically in now," he told WAMC. "Floor three, done, fully occupied. Floor two, complete, fully occupied. Floor one, 85 percent complete.”
The project’s rapid development has led to even more unanticipated additions than just Ground Level West.
“The NORAD Café is another business I just grew out of the excitement and the success of this building where we suddenly got to this point where we found that there was a need to provide a food service here for all the tenants," said Moresi. "Soon we’re going to hitting the 150 mark with the daily number of people who will be here and we found that we needed to provide a café service for them that will be open six days a week doing breakfast and lunch service.”
The mill will also feature its own sweets shop, the Candy Mill. It’s Moresi’s passion project.
“I think every community should have a little candy store," he told WAMC. "I’ve made this reference before, and I’ve said this this is the new downtown. We don’t fully grasp what’s evolving here at the NORAD Mill, but it is kind of reminiscent of how downtowns evolve, where you start getting some businesses and then other businesses feed off of that. And that’s where I was able to have some fun and say well, we have the traffic here, we have these people just walking around shopping and stuff, we can bring a candy store here and we can see it be successful, and it will be successful.”
An event space is also in the works.
“We call that Three West," said Moresi. "It’s 95 percent done. It’s top floor, western side of the building. Quite frankly, it has some of the most amazing panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges.”
The contrast between the NORAD Mill’s success and the comparatively stagnant city core just a mile and half away isn’t lost on Moresi.
“We know that there’s numerous buildings owned by numerous individuals in the downtown," he said. "Some have recently been purchased. We’re not seeing any fast paced redevelopment of those buildings. We’re seeing empty storefronts there.”
He says a handful of businesses formerly based downtown have moved to the mill.
“One business here, the Computer Bug, which had been on Main Street for 20 years, I never realized how much business they actually get," said Moresi. "But in speaking with the owner just this morning, he commented on how just in the last 24 hours he’s picked up two more customers just based on their walking through the mill.”
“We’ve been getting a lot of new customers especially from Williamstown who are just hearing about us even though we’ve been open since 2000," said Stephen Bryant. His family owns and operates the Computer Bug. He says relocating to the first floor of the mill has been transformative.
“That has been a huge bump in foot traffic, people just walking in, compared to Main Street," said Bryant. "Main Street we could get a few people coming in, but not too many people stopping in, bringing their computers and everything. But here, it’s been a big difference.”
The NORAD Mill will hold its official grand opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on June 1st.