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Carriage Shops owners consider $4.6M offer

Trustees of the Amherst Carriage Shops Condominium Trust and owners of individual units met Monday morning at the Holiday Inn Express in Hadley to discuss the future of the downtown property.

According to a memo sent to unit owners, those attending the meeting would discuss and vote on a response to Archipelago’s proposal, proceed with negotiations if 75 percent of unit owners agreed to a deal and remove the condominium provisions governing the property by dissolving the association. Members of the trust are Jerald Gates, Edna Johnson, Robert Ritchie and Larry Severance.

Though no decision was made at Monday’s meeting, those who rent their units won’t have a say in what the owners decide, with some already planning to leave the site.

The owners of the Glazed Doughnut Shop have secured a lease at another site in Amherst center that they hope to reopen in by June. Keren and Nick Rhodes said they are being forced to relocate because the Carriage Shops is likely to be demolished if sold to Archipelago.

Archipelago built the five-story mixed-use Boltwood Place on Boltwood Walk and has a proposal for another five-story building called Kendrick Place at the corner of East Pleasant and Triangle streets, just a few hundred feet from the Carriage Shops.

Other shopkeepers are unsure about what they will do.

Yasmin Brandford, who has owned Amherst Extensions and Beauty Salon for nearly three years, said she took over the business from a previous owner and rents her unit.

“Ever since I was 15 years old, I told the lady it’s part of my dreams,” Brandford said.

Brandford said as the only hair salon in Amherst focused on African-Americans, she attracts people from throughout the region, including college students.

Last year, she was approached with an opportunity to buy her unit, but wasn’t able to come up with the money to do this.

“There’s nothing I can do,” Brandford said. “I feel so hopeless and helpless.”

Frederick and Fikriye King, who run King’s Tailoring, own two units at the Carriage Shops, but also may be forced to leave the site if the 75 percent threshold is reached for agreeing to the sale.

A move, expansion

Meanwhile, the Rhodeses, who have run the Glazed Doughnut Shop from 233 North Pleasant St. since 2012, will relocate to 19 North Pleasant St., site of J. Gumbos Cajun and Creole restaurant.

“We’re seeing the writing on the wall,” Keren Rhodes said. “We don’t know exactly when the building will get sold and torn down, but we might not have a place to go when it does.”

The move will mean expanding from 500 square feet to 1,200 square feet, becoming handicapped-accessible and offering restrooms for customers. The new site will have 25 to 30 seats, a large case in which to display doughnuts and a variety of gluten-free products, and an old-fashioned soda fountain.

“Bigger and better is the goal,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes said the plan is to move out from the Carriage Shops in late May and reopen in the new space before the Taste of Amherst takes place in mid June.

Previously, the Rhodeses had invested $30,000 to $40,000 in the current space and estimate it will cost $15,000 to transition the new space into a restaurant where doughnuts are made on site.

“It still needs some work, but we don’t have to replumb the whole thing,” Keren Rhodes said.

Because just 18 months have passed since they made the investment in the shop, the couple is launching a fundraising campaign in which they hope to attract 1,000 people making $10 donations apiece, with stickers and T-shirts and doughnuts as prizes. More information is available at www.indiegogo.com/projects/glazed-doughnut-shop-moving-to-a-new-home.

Despite the disruption to her business, Rhodes said whatever replaces the Carriage Shops will likely be a positive development for the town.

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