Mole Hollow Candle building in Shelburne Falls to be converted into apartments

  • The former Mole Hollow Candle building by the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls is being converted into apartments. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The former Mole Hollow Candle building by the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls is being converted into apartments. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The former Mole Hollow Candle building by the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls is being converted into apartments. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • An artist’s rendition of the former Mole Hollow Candle factory in Shelburne Falls, which is being converted into apartments. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The interior of the former Mole Hollow Candle factory in Shelburne Falls, which is being converted into apartments. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The interior of the former Mole Hollow Candle factory in Shelburne Falls, which is being converted into apartments. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/31/2020 5:38:51 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — After years of vacancy, a new use for the former Mole Hollow Candle building — the old candle store overlooking the Glacial Potholes — is beginning to take shape.

“It’s a very nice building of great historic significance to the town,” said Byron Gilchrest, who purchased the building in June for roughly $400,000. “But it’s also in a unique location.”

Gilchrest, a Charlemont resident who is president and owner of the Boston real-estate development firm Gilchrest Associates, said that, having received approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Conservation Commission, he plans to convert the 8,000-square-foot building into nine residences — three one-bedrooms and six two-bedrooms.

Meanwhile, Gilchrest also hopes to acquire the Charlemont Inn and eventually turn it into low-income elderly housing.

The deck adjacent to the Mole Hollow Candle property, which is often used by tourists and locals as a viewing platform for the Glacial Potholes, will remain open and accessible to the public, he said. In other words, people can cross his property to access it.

“It’s important to the town of Shelburne Falls, and it’s a major tourist attraction to the town,” Gilchrest said. “I saw no reason to limit the ability of people to get there.

“I don’t have a problem with people coming in, as long as they’re not coming into the building,” he added.

There will be signs, he noted, limiting his liability and making it clear to visitors what is public property and what is private property.

Because of the building’s historic designation, Gilchrest won’t be altering the exterior of the building, which includes the roof configuration. He noted that he has applied for historic tax credit — a program that incentivizes the rehabilitation and re-use, and therefore preservation, of historic buildings.

“We’re keeping the structure, which is heavy timber,” he said.

The interior of the building, he noted, was demolished years ago.

The Mole Hollow Candle building has been vacant since 2010. Over the last several years, various uses for the building have been proposed, including the site of a new senior center or a market.

Currently, Gilchrest is completing construction documents with architects and engineers, and the contractor is about to begin some “early phase work.” He said construction costs are estimated at around $2 million.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful area, and it makes for beautiful housing,” said Gilchrest, who expects units to be available by spring 2022. “Somebody is going to have a unit there that they’re living in ... and they’ll be looking out on the falls. It’s spectacular.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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