Land gift fosters access to Shelburne’s Glacial Potholes overlook

  • A kitchen area of the condominiums built in the former Mole Hollow Candle building overlooking the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The rear of the nine condominiums at the former Mole Hollow Candle building in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A bedroom in one of the nine condominiums at the former Mole Hollow Candle building overlooking the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Byron Gilchrest of Gilchrest Associates Inc. stands in the balcony doorway of one of the condominiums he built in the former Mole Hollow Candle building overlooking the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The fence separating the private, left, and public, right, areas at the former Mole Hollow Candle building overlooking the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The public will still have access to the viewing platform overlooking the Glacial Potholes at the former Mole Hollow Candle building in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/22/2022 4:11:15 PM
Modified: 6/22/2022 4:10:54 PM

SHELBURNE — The new condominium owners at the former Mole Hollow Candle building have an unexpected neighbor: the town.

Byron Gilchrest, developer of the new condominiums, The Residences at Mill Falls at 12 Deerfield Ave., gave a 1,323-square-foot parcel of land bordering the Deerfield River to the town as a gift, and two parcels totaling 1,053 square feet as an easement. The property overlooks Shelburne’s famous Glacial Potholes.

Gilchrest purchased the former candle building in June 2020 for roughly $400,000. When he first received approval for the condominiums, town officials feared it would cut off public access to the Glacial Potholes overlook. The concerns were echoed on social media.

“I’ve lived here for 45 years,” Gilchrest said. “I would never cut off the pothole overlook to the public.”

“It was a helpful exchange of favors,” said Selectboard member Andrew Baker. “He helped to clear up some boundary issues that had been present for many years. We, in turn, allowed him to build a balcony in the condo he was building.”

Phil Pless, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Community Realtors, worked with the Zoning Board of Appeals and an attorney to ensure the overlook would still be available to the public.

However, the zoning board does not have authorization to accept gifts on the behalf of the town, so the land gift was presented at Annual Town Meeting earlier this month. The articles accepting this land passed unanimously.

The Residences at Mill Falls is a $3 million project. Four out of the nine units are now complete, and three of the units have already sold. The asking price for the condos ranges from $350,000 to $615,000. Greenfield Savings Bank financed the project and Dole Brothers construction built the interior.

“This is completely local work,” Pless said. “People are happy to have the work.”

The deck overlooking the Glacial Potholes was constructed while the Mole Hollow Candle factory was still in operation. The construction occurred 20 to 25 years ago, according to Selectboard member Bob Manners.

“We always knew the deck was built on public and private property,” Manners said. “It was more of a verbal gentleman’s agreement.”

Now, the agreement is guaranteed.

According to Gilchrest, the public has thought that the overlook has always been owned by the town.

“That has never been true. Everyone who’s ever come to see the potholes came through private land,” Gilchrest said.

“The deck is a nice place to look at and a lot of people don’t realize the ownership has been tangled up for many years,” Baker agreed.

According to Gilchrest, the Glacial Potholes are the second biggest tourist attraction in the village of Shelburne Falls, following the Bridge of Flowers.

“Tourists come here for the potholes and spend their money in the town,” he said.

Since the 2013 filming of “The Judge” where the condos are now turned the then-abandoned building into a restaurant, residents have hoped that the building would become a restaurant.

“The building has been vacant for 10 years, and no one found they could financially support a restaurant,” Gilchrest noted.

Gilchrest has a long career building luxury condos in Boston.

“This is a small project for him,” Pless said.

Contact Bella Levavi at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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