GREAT BARRINGTON — A city developer has purchased the Main Street building that housed Berkshire Community College’s satellite campus and plans to redevelop it into a community health and wellness center.
The Alander Group’s $5.25 million project, which will also restore the historic structure at 343 Main Street, is expected to be completed in June 2023, according to Alander’s request for $250,000 of Community Preservation Act funds from the city.
The CPA approved the request last week, along with $1.2 million for other projects. City voters will have to approve all funding at this year’s annual municipal meeting.
BCC will remain on site with its adult learning program only; in-person classes for students of all ages will be held at its Pittsfield campus, and online classes continue. Community health programs Family Dental Care will remain, and those who have signed non-binding letters of intent to lease space there include Berkshire Health Systems’ Berkshire Community Pharmacy, Volunteers in Medicine and Sustainable Food Lab Berkshires, a non-profit organization that works to develop and improve local food systems.
The BCC Foundation sold the 22,000 square foot site to Alander in December for $1.45 million. Alander’s interest seems to have helped spark an intent to sell. Proceeds from the sale would help the school continue to fund an average of about $350,000 in annual scholarships, as well as other student supports, BCC Foundation President Gene Dellea said last year. .
Before the pandemic, 245 of the college’s 2,496 students attended the satellite campus.
BCC could sell its Great Barrington satellite. College officials say the school is still committed to South County.
Alander’s director is Ian Rasch, an experienced developer in the Berkshires and Brooklyn, NY. He also co-founded Framework Properties with Sam Nickerson, and the couple renovated 47 Railroad St. downtown, creating 13 condominiums and several retail spaces.
The Main Street building is special, according to the Great Barrington Historical Commission. In 1923, the Whalen & Kastner garage operated there as a car dealership for more than 50 years and boosted car tourism in the Berkshires in the 1920s and 1930s, according to a letter of support from commission chairman Malcolm Fick .
Local architect Joseph McArthur Vance was responsible for the redesign of the building. His other works include the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre, First Church of Christ, Scientist and Bascom Lodge on Mount Greylock.
The building adjoins the site of a contaminated former BP service station, which is under state surveillance. The city is working to take possession of the site through foreclosure, complete the cleanup and sell it.