Banking on Bank Row: Buildings nearly full, developer happy
Bank Row buildings
Magpies Woodfired Pizzeria and Manna House on Bank Row
Bank Row buildings from Main St
First of two parts
GREENFIELD — Bank Row is thriving, even if it doesn’t always appear that way, says the man who redeveloped three buildings along one of the main entrances to the downtown three years ago.
Jordi Herold said that, with the exception of two retail spaces, his buildings are full.
Herold said the eight apartments in the former Allen Block, also known as the Ruggeri building, as well as six apartments in the office building south of the former Ray’s Cafe building, are full.
He said a lawyer, doctor’s office, and an acupuncturist occupy office space in those buildings.
Just this month, Raven Used Books moved out of the space it had occupied next to Greenfield Coffee for the past three years, its owner citing lack of foot traffic as one of her reasons for her leaving.
But, she said, it is a “beautiful space with a courtyard out back, so I’m sure Jordi will have someone moving in soon.”
Herold said he is already lining up potential tenants to take a look at the former Raven space, as well as a basement retail space in the Allen Block, which was occupied by a computer store.
“That one might be a little more difficult to rent because it’s in the basement,” said Herold.
“It’s really going great, though,” said Herold. “I probably have the highest rental revenue in Greenfield. I have no complaints.”
Herold said landlords always want to be at 100 percent capacity, but that’s unrealistic, no matter where you live.
Even so, he said he’s optimistic that his buildings will be full again by spring.
Karen Adams owns Greenfield Community Acupuncture, which is located on the second floor of the former Allen Block.
“I love it here,” said Adams, who opened her business there three years ago.
A year and a half later, she moved in as one of Herold’s residential tenants. She lives on the third floor of the building.
“My commute if fabulous,” said Adams. “I put about 10 miles a week on my car.”
Adams said living in the building gives her a great view of downtown Greenfield.
“There’s a party in my front yard every weekend the Farmers Market is open,” she said.
Adams said she was a little worried about living and working in the same building, but got over that quickly.
“Both of my spaces are beautiful,” she said. “One of my clients told me the clinic space is the most serene ever. Some clients tell me they start to relax as they climb the stairs.”
“My intent is to stay here,” said Adams.
Dwight Zeager, who co-owns the Manna House with his wife Hyun Soon Lee, said they are happy at 27 Bank Row.
The couple moved Manna House there from a much smaller space on Main Street.
“It’s going good so far,” said Zeager. “We did have a little concern about the location at the bottom of Bank Row, but it turns out it’s not a big problem for us.”
Zeager said it is actually working well, because being newly renovated, the couple doesn’t have to fix something “every two minutes.”
He said the restaurant is doing well — people are coming.
Herold, who used a half-million dollars in historical tax credits to help with his renovation costs, said he is also proud of two awards he won in 2012.
“The awards were for the quality of work and preservation I did on those buildings,” he said. “The awards came from the Massachusetts Historical Society and Preservation Massachusetts. They were statewide awards and very competitive. These buildings were the only ones that got those awards in this area.”
Mayor William Martin said he is pleased with Herold’s project.
“Some people think Jordi came in just a little too early, before (expanded) rail (service) or a parking garage,” said Martin. “I think, after 40 years, he was a little too late,” arriving on the scene after the buildings he bought had fallen into disrepair and disuse.
Martin said Herold would probably never have received state and federal historical credits if he hadn’t gotten in on them when he did.
“He helped create jobs and brought new businesses to Greenfield,” said Martin. “He allowed other businesses to expand, like the Manna House.”
The Manna House recently moved from a very small space on Main Street, to the retail space in Herold’s most southern building.
Martin said people should remember the dilapidated buildings that stood along Bank Row just three short years ago.
“Now we have a street full of retailers and offices and residential apartments,” he said. “It’s thriving. And, it’s only going to get better when rail arrives in a year or two.” Amtrak has plans to reroute is Montrealer service through Greenfield after federally funded track improvements are made.
Martin said Herold’s achievements are in line with the town’s vision of its Urban Renewal District.
The mayor said just because a business leaves, doesn’t mean failure on anyone’s part.
“Entrepreneurs have visions that sometimes don’t fit into the locations they choose,” he said. “Someone else will move in and make it work. That’s the way it goes.”
Martin said Bank Row is now the “poster child” for movement, opportunity and chance in Greenfield.
“Without the redevelopment Jordi did, there would be no chance for Bank Row,” said Martin. “Economic development is all about constant change and momentum — and that’s Bank Row.”
To reach Karen Adams and Greenfield Community Acupuncture, call 413-772-0077.
To reach Manna House, call 413-774-5955.
Wednesday: Buying a bank