Turners Falls campaigns for new building at 38 Avenue A

  • The town of Montague is supporting an effort to redevelop 38 Avenue A, which has been unused for two decades. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/13/2019 10:26:18 PM

MONTAGUE — Downtown Turners Falls may get its first new building in at least two decades, if a town-supported redevelopment campaign goes as expected.

The location is 38 Avenue A, the space at the corner of Avenue A and 2nd Street with picnic tables and an open lawn. But it isn’t a park, said Montague Town Planner Walter Ramsey: it’s an unused retail space, hinted at by the vacant cinder block building on the same lot.

The new building is still at least a few years away, Ramsey said. The town began soliciting developers interested in the project this week, and is accepting letters of interest through Sept. 30, according to a legal ad in the Greenfield Recorder on Monday.

The 38 Avenue A lot is owned by the Montague Economic Development and Industrial Corp. (EDIC), a quasi-public body that the town can use to influence local development, similar to Greenfield’s Redevelopment Authority, Ramsey explained.

The building has been vacant since about 2000, Ramsey said, and is now commonly used as if it were a park. Mostly likely, officials say, the developer would replace the building.

From the 1970s through the ’90s, the land was a gas station. The now-vacant building was a Cumberland Farms store, Ramsey said, with gas pumps once located where the lawn is now. Before that it had been the four-story Grand Trunk Hotel, which was torn down in the late ’60s, Ramsey said.

The EDIC is now seeking a developer to buy the land and develop it into a new mixed-used building, with retail on the first floor and offices or residential space on the upper floors, per the town’s documented planning goals, Ramsey said.

If the land is redeveloped, the building would be the newest one in Turners Falls by a significant margin. Ramsey said he did not know of anything else that had been built in at least a few decades, and considered this project the first new building in “a generation.”

There is no firm plan for what the new building will look like, how big it will be or what it will be used for, except that it will have at least two stories — retail on the bottom and offices or apartments above. Sketches of a three-story building in a planning document were well received by residents, Ramsey said, so the Planning Department thinks the new building will likely be at least three stories. Ultimately those details will be addressed in developers’ proposals for the project.

Reach Max Marcus at
mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.


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