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Cinda Jones Is Building a Community — and More — in North Amherst

As the largest private landowner in Massachusetts, with properties in 30 towns, the Cowls family is especially synonymous with North Amherst, where it has made its headquarters — and an enduring legacy in lumber and conservation — for 279 years. These days, Cinda Jones, the ninth-generation president of W.D. Cowls Inc., and her team are doing nothing short of creating a new town center in North Amherst. Why? Because the family has always transformed the land into what was most beneficial and needed. Today, she says, that’s a sense of community.

The area of North Amherst known as the Mill District has served many purposes over the nearly 300 years the Cowls family has made its name there.

Early on, for example, the farm produced and distributed onions, tobacco, and dairy products. In the 1800s, in a burst of diversified interests, the Cowls family managed a rock quarry, constructed a street railway system, ran two sawmills, built and operated a building supply store, and managed myriad residential and commercial properties, along with thousands of acres of timberland.

In short, each generation of Cowls descendants discontinued enterprises that had become outdated and reinvented the family business to be more relevant for their time — and more personally inspiring to them.

Cinda Jones, along with her brother, Evan, represents the ninth such generation to take on that challenge — and the mixed-use development now emerging in the Mill District, known as North Square, might represent its most dramatic change yet.

It’s that project, but also a rich, two-decade stewardship of the Cowls legacy, that has earned Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls Inc., recognition as BusinessWest’s Top Entrepreneur for 2019.

“We knew, if we’re creating a new uptown in Amherst, it has to be an experiential place,” Jones told BusinessWest during a lengthy tour of the property earlier this month. “We want retail, and retail doesn’t work unless it’s better than online, and it offers something different. We have 22,000 square feet of retail space around a town square in an already-thriving area, where 45,000 people commute through every day. And that’s going to increase. So we’re really excited about what this can become.”

“We knew, if we’re creating a new uptown in Amherst, it has to be an experiential place. We want retail, and retail doesn’t work unless it’s better than online, and it offers something different.”

In simple terms, Jones envisioned a modern residential community of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units overlooking a commercial center comprised of roughly one-third food establishments (a restaurant and café, Jakes at the Mill, is already thriving there), one-third retail, and one-third “experiential services, like yoga, making your own pottery, things you enjoy doing — not dentists and accountants, because those aren’t so fun,” she explained.

“Everyone wants that,” she went on. “Malls stole our downtowns. Now malls are dying, but the one thing they’re doing to stay alive is to have experiences. That’s the correct thing to do. In addition to making a downtown with a mix of retail, we want to create a place where you want to spend the day.”

At left, the converted barn currently occupied by Atkins Farms. At right, one of the newer buildings housing both commercial and residential space.

Spend a day with Cinda Jones, and the main takeaway is a passion for the many ways land can — and should — be used. And she’s got a lot of land to put to use, and plenty of ideas about what comes next.

Nine Generations

Founded in 1741, W.D. Cowls Inc. is, in fact, Massachusetts’ largest private landowner. In 1741, Jonathan Cowls bought a farm in North Amherst and started the Cowls timber company. His son David built the company’s corporate headquarters in 1768 — in a large house that still serves that purpose today. The land Jonathan began acquiring 279 years ago now includes more than 100 parcels in 30 towns in Hampshire and Franklin counties.

According to the company’s written history, “for the first 100 years, everything the family had was always passed down to the oldest son, who was usually named Jonathan, and the Jonathans didn’t muck it up irreversibly. After that, with a David and a couple Walters in the mix, every generation of the family built what his generation of community needed on the home farm, while continuing to grow Cowls’ timberland base and conduct sustainable forestry operations.”

Jones got her start in the family business at age 10, cutting yellow triangles out of sheets of plastic for foresters to use as boundary markers. She worked her way up by scraping and painting fences and barns, sorting nails, stacking lumber, and helping the company’s administrative assistant.

Hannah Rechtschaffen says young people, in particular, desire the face-to-face culture that mixed-use developments promote.

After graduating from Colby College in 1990 and earning a graduate certificate in business administration from Georgetown University in 1995, she remained in Washington, D.C. for several more years, holding conservation and timber industry-related leadership positions, including marketing director for the Cato Institute, Wood Marketing director for the American Forest & Paper Assoc., vice president of the National Forest Foundation, and Northeast regional director of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

In July 2001, her father joked that she was “so good at managing nonprofit organizations” that she should come home and manage the unprofitable sawmill, timberland, and real-estate divisions of Cowls. She did, and brought a bit of bad fortune with her.

“Within a year, the sawmill burned to the ground when lightning hit it,” she told BusinessWest, adding that she initially balked at plans to rebuild it. “I said, ‘Dad, it loses money. Why are we rebuilding a sawmill? Let’s do something different.’ He said, ‘it’s what we do. People depend on these jobs. It feeds our store. We will rebuild. You don’t know enough to close it down yet. But if it doesn’t work in five years, you can try something different.’”

So it went back up, as a timber-frame specialty mill. “We tried really hard, but it still didn’t work,” Jones said. “So we closed it in 2010.”

“I wanted it to be the Dirty Hands District, but I was told no one would come eat sandwiches in the Dirty Hands District. So I couldn’t name it that.”

She was already starting to envision the next step: developing a new downtown area — actually, uptown — in North Amherst. With her brother, she renovated their great-grandmother’s cow barn, which would house the second site Atkins Market site, and built the Trolley Barn mixed-use building, also on Cowls Road, and partnered with Beacon Communities on the residential components of North Square.

“At first, we tried to market the place — ‘locate here!’ But it was just hard-packed gravel and a closed sawmill,” she recalled. “People were like, ‘there’s no here here. Why would we come to a gravel lot in the middle of North Amherst?’”

Coming up with and marketing the Mill District name helped, although Jones first considered a moniker that had been used in the past for this neighborhood of farms and timberland. “I wanted it to be the Dirty Hands District, but I was told no one would come eat sandwiches in the Dirty Hands District. So I couldn’t name it that. So the Mill District it was.”

The Mill District actually encompasses more than North Square. Riverside Park Stores and Apartments — a former trolley destination that now houses a strip mall and 48 apartments behind it — is part of it, as are Cowls Building Supply and Mill District Depot.

Evan and Cinda Jones represent the ninth generation of leadership in the broad array of Cowls operations.

“We’re building a new uptown in Amherst which is called the Mill District, that incorporates Riverside Park and comes all the way up here,” she explained. “We’re trying to connect the two properties and tell the story of the whole neighborhood. North Square is what we’re doing today, but it’s so much bigger than that.”

Face to Face

Hannah Rechtschaffen grew up in Western Mass. but left more than 17 years ago, most recently attending graduate school and working in the field of urban innovation in Philadelphia. In large cities like that, she said, mixed-use developments are par for the course.

Even outside urban environments, though, after a decade of social media curtailing face-to-face contact, “the pendulum has swung back to wanting to be in person, wanting to live above a coffee shop where you go down in the morning and they know your name,” she told BusinessWest. “At one point, that’s how the world used to be, and now I’m hearing from Millennials that’s what they want. And they don’t just want it, they expect it — to go into a place and not be faceless.”

As director of Placemaking for Cowls, a job she took less than a year ago, part of her job is to create events, art installations, and community programs that bring back personal connections and elevate individual experiences in the neighborhood. To that end, she often reaches out to the community about what they want at North Square.

“Malls stole our downtowns. Now malls are dying, but the one thing they’re doing to stay alive is to have experiences. That’s the correct thing to do. In addition to making a downtown with a mix of retail, we want to create a place where you want to spend the day.”

“We have a clipboard over at Jakes where we say, ‘what do you want to see here? What’s important to you?’ And then we go out and try to find those businesses, ideally locally rooted, so they can come and provide some amenities — because there aren’t a lot of amenities along this corridor to Greenfield. We get a lot of feedback from the community about what they’d like to see, and our hope is that what happens here is in line with their vision and our vision.”

Part of that vision is a focus on the arts and opportunities for artists to connect with the community. One example is an art gallery, which will be connected to a general store and a café, featuring artists who hail from the many communities in which Cowls operates.

Some ideas are cheekier than others; Jones said the general store will feature two “experiential public bathrooms,” one with a jungle theme and the other featuring mirror glass — people can see out, but not in — meaning “you can do your business while you’re watching everyone out here do their business.”

Other tenants of the commercial space might include a distillery and tasting room, a flower and gift shop, and a tea house. Meanwhile, Atkins is moving out in July, but Jones has had interest from other food establishments.

Then there are 130 residential units, 20% of which are classified as affordable housing; residents began moving in back in August. Among the amenities — including a community room, gym, and outdoor play areas — are pet-friendly perks like an outdoor dog park and a mud room where dogs can be hosed off after a muddy time outdoors.

And, of course, a raft of shops, eateries, and experiences a few feet beyond one’s front door, and access to PVTA buses to move about the region without having to drive.

“The Mill District is more than just this one place; it’s touching the entire Valley. We’re trying to set an example of how to live in a community,” Rechtschaffen said. “We have to get creative with the experiential aspect of it. Every potential tenant we are talking to right now, they all have some aspect of their business that’s about teaching workshops, teaching classes, sharing what they do and why they do it with community members. That aspect is just crucial, and it’s fun.”

It’s also critical from an environmental perspective, she added, considering how young people aren’t as keen as previous generations were on long drives to get what they need to go. “There’s a lot more around the climate-change conversation — how we live, how we set our lives up to be able to let go of some of those things that have contributed to climate change, and this is one example.”

Land of Opportunity

As president, Jones oversees the real-estate and timberland and natural-resource management divisions of W.D. Cowls Inc., while her brother, Evan, oversees Cowls Building Supply, the retail store founded by their father, Paul. The Mill District has been a joint effort between the two — and it’s far from the only significant land-use project the company has recently undertaken.

For example, Cinda put an agricultural-preservation restriction on 45 acres of Amherst farmland, and in 2012 dedicated the largest contiguous private conservation project in Massachusetts history, the 3,486-acre Paul C. Jones Working Forest in the towns of Leverett and Shutesbury, which stands, she says, as a legacy to Cowls’ eighth-generation leader and the family’s commitment to sustainable forestry.

The Trolley Barn building hosts a range of businesses, including a restaurant, Jakes at the Mill.

In 2019, Cowls added an adjacent 2,000-acre conservation project in Leverett, Shutesbury, and Pelham, this one named for her grandfather, Walter Cowls Jones. A series of solar farms in the region have provided other opportunities for environment-friendly development.

She had already achieved some success at Cowls when BusinessWest named her to its inaugural 40 Under Forty class in 2007, and the evolution of her work since then was reflected in her Continuing Excellence Award last year, and now the Top Entrepreneur honor; she is one of only two individuals to have won three of the magazine’s six major awards.

Previous Top Entrepreneurs

• 2018: Antonacci Family, owners of USA Hauling, GreatHorse, and Sonny’s Place
• 2017: Owners and managers of the Springfield Thunderbirds
• 2016: Paul Kozub, founder and president of V-One Vodka
• 2015: The D’Amour Family, founders of Big Y
• 2014: Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT
• 2013: Tim Van Epps, president and CEO of Sandri LLC
• 2012: Rick Crews and Jim Brennan, franchisees of Doctors Express
• 2011: Heriberto Flores, director of the New England Farm Workers’ Council and Partners for Community
• 2010: Bob Bolduc, founder and CEO of Pride
• 2009: Holyoke Gas & Electric
• 2008: Arlene Kelly and Kim Sanborn, founders of Human Resource Solutions and Convergent Solutions Inc.
• 2007: John Maybury, president of Maybury Material Handling
• 2006: Rocco, Jim, and Jayson Falcone, principals of Rocky’s Hardware Stores and Falcone Retail Properties
• 2005: James (Jeb) Balise, president of Balise Motor Sales
• 2004: Craig Melin, then-president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Hospital
• 2003: Tony Dolphin, president of Springboard Technologies
• 2002: Timm Tobin, then-president of Tobin Systems Inc.
• 2001: Dan Kelley, then-president of Equal Access Partners
• 2000: Jim Ross, Doug Brown, and Richard DiGeronimo, then-principals of Concourse Communications
• 1999: Andrew Scibelli, then-president of Springfield Technical Community College
• 1998: Eric Suher, president of E.S. Sports
• 1997: Peter Rosskothen and Larry Perreault, then-co-owners of the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House
• 1996: David Epstein, president and co-founder of JavaNet and the JavaNet Café

“Congratulations to Cinda Jones on this recognition as Top Entrepreneur in our region by BusinessWest,” said Claudia Pazmany, president of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. “Cinda tires of status quo and consistently asks what more can be done. Each idea generated is followed by yet another. She then uses her allies and matches them to local resources to make change happen.

“The transformation of North Amherst through her creation of the Mill District over the last 10 years has not only preserved some of her rich family history in agriculture and lumber, but tied it to the future of our great town, creating economic mobility tying old generations to new,” she went on. “I am proud to call Cinda a friend and colleague and cannot wait to support her in her next project — because there will always be a ‘next’ with Cinda.”

North Square at the Mill District has been that big ‘next’ lately, and it’s the product of not only her team’s vision, but inspiration from unexpected places.

For example, next to Atkins is a recreational area of sorts, complete with a covered sandbox containing books and construction-themed toys. It’s called Wonderland — for good reason.

At the start of construction on North Square, some of the property’s historic millstones and large pieces of granite were converted to benches, tables, and art structures, meant to be a gathering place for people who bought ice cream and a signal that Atkins welcomed them during construction.

A woman named Kate posted on Facebook that her son, Sam, thought this humble play area was the most magical place on earth, referring to it as a ‘wonderland.’ When Jones offered to dedicate the space to Sam, his mom said her daughter Abbie also enjoys playing there, and so did her other daughter, Mabel — during the seven short months of her life.

Jones said that story broke her heart, but Mabel also became an inspiration to create more experiential spaces and programs that make the Mill District a special and important place for more families to connect. Today, Wonderland is adorned with a plaque dedicating it to Sam, Abbie, and Mabel.

Most people are familiar with the saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ Jones told BusinessWest, but in this case, it took a child to lend a large dose of inspiration to the creation of an entire village.

Permanent Reminder

That’s not the first time Jones honored one of her inspirations with an indelible mark. She also tells the story of how Cowls transitioned to its ninth generation of leadership. When Jones, then 34, came home from D.C. in 2001, her dad thought the sawmill workers might go around her new authority to speak with him if he were on site, so he tossed her the keys to the office and left, saying, “I’ll see you for coffee every morning, but they need to know you’re in charge, so I’m going to make myself scarce.”

Ten years — and plenty of leadership experience — later, as her father was dying, the family sat with a lawyer at the same kitchen table the kids grew up around, with the company represented by piles of paper being passed down to the ninth generation. As her father was signing documents, she stuck her arm in the way, and he jokingly signed it.

She didn’t wash it off. Instead, she had the signature permanently tattooed there.

A few months later, as she was about to sign off on the Paul C. Jones Working Forest in honor of her father, she rolled up her sleeves, looked down, and saw the signature, and felt like he was still across the table from her in the same house the family has operated from since 1741.

And with the same philosophy, too — one that constantly asks what’s the best use for the land, and the people who live, work, and play there.

“It’s smart growth when you build near jobs and gas stations and schools and population centers, and when you don’t build where there are critical natural resources,” she said. “And Cowls is in the unique position to be able to decide and build in an intelligent way. We have this existing industrial site in North Amherst that we’ve redeveloped for the ninth time, and it’s a new town center, so people who live here can get everything they need. And we do hope they’ll come live here.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

Woodlawn Shopping Plaza

An architect’s rendering of the housing project planned for the Woodlawn Shopping Plaza.

Rocco Falcone acknowledged that, when he and fellow partners Andy Yee and Peter Picknelly acquired the Woodlawn Shopping Plaza on Newton Street in South Hadley in 2016, they were making that sizable investment at a time when the world of retail was changing — and shrinking.

And they knew then that the plaza, dominated by a closed Big Y supermarket, might not look like it did years down the road — not that they didn’t try to find a strong retail anchor to fill the role that Big Y played.

“We knew there was going to be an unlikelihood that we’d be able to get another supermarket, although we tried like heck to — we talked to a number of chains, local, national, and international,” said Falcone, manager of South Hadley Plaza LLC, the entity created to acquire the property, and perhaps better known as president and CEO of the Rocky’s Ace Hardware chain. “When we bought it, we kept it in our minds that it might not be a supermarket — or even retail.”

And the Woodlawn Shopping Plaza will, indeed, take on a new look — and role that goes beyond shopping — with the announcement of plans to build 72 mixed-income apartments on a three-acre portion of the plaza where the Big Y once stood; a public hearing is slated on the proposal for June 26 at the South Hadley library.

Town Administrator Mike Sullivan, former mayor of Holyoke, sees the proposed housing project as an opportunity for the community, one that could change the face of an underperforming property (the plaza), perhaps spur new business development at the site and elsewhere, and even boost enrollment at the town’s schools, which have seen their numbers declining in recent years.

“We knew there was going to be an unlikelihood that we’d be able to get another supermarket, although we tried like heck to — we talked to a number of chains, local, national, and international. When we bought it, we kept it in our minds that it might not be a supermarket — or even retail.”

The announced plans for the plaza comprise one of a number of intriguing developments in South Hadley, a community of nearly 18,000 people that has always been an attractive place to live and has been working for decades to balance its strong neighborhoods with new business opportunities.

Others include progress toward an update of the community’s master plan; introduction of a new option for ultra-high-speed internet service, called FiberSonic, to town residents; efforts to work with neighboring Granby to bring more order to a hodgepodge of zoning on the Route 202 corridor; apparent progress in bringing the town’s long-underperforming municipal golf course, the Ledges, to self-sustainability; and even a new dog park on the Ledges property.

“Dog parks have become somewhat of a recreational amenity in many communities, including Northampton, Granby, and many other cities and towns,” said Sullivan. “It’s surprising how many people are really into their dogs; this is a quality-of-life issue, and at least this will put another 100 to 200 South Hadley residents onto property that they’re paying for. They don’t golf, but they have a dog.”

For the latest installment of its Community Spotlight series, BusinessWest looks at these various developments in South Hadley and how they are part of ongoing efforts to make the community a better place to work, live, and start a business.

Getting out of the Rough

Golf courses, especially municipal golf courses, usually don’t generate many headlines.

The Ledges has been a notable exception to that rule. Since it opened at the start of this century, it has been in the news often — and for all the wrong reasons. Indeed, conceived and built as Tiger Woods was rocketing to stardom and golf was booming as a sport and a business, the picturesque Ledges, with breathtaking views of the Holyoke Range, was projected to a be a strong revenue generator for the community.

Suffice it to say things haven’t worked out that way. In fact, the course has been a financial drain, racking up deficits of more than $1 million some years, and into six figures most years.

Town Administrator Mike Sullivan

Town Administrator Mike Sullivan says new high-speed Internet service, called FiberSonic might spur more young professionals to move to South Hadley.

Sullivan, who inherited this problem, took the aggressive step of outsourcing not only maintenance of the course, but overall management of the facility, with the goal of turning things around and making the Ledges self-sustaining.

Mike Fontaine, the course’s general manager and an employee of Lakeland, Fla.-based International Golf Maintenance (IGM), which manages more than 30 courses across the country, is optimistic that some kind of corner has been turned at the Ledges. He noted that the shortfall was smaller last year (Sullivan pegged it at roughly $35,000) — despite unrelenting rains that made 2018 a difficult year for every golf course — and that, even with more rain early this year, the course is on track to improve on last year’s numbers and continue on an upward trajectory.

He said IGM’s efforts comprise work in progress, but added that a number of steps have been taken to improve the visitor experience and, thus, generate more revenue for the town. Work has been done to build a management team, place more emphasis on customer service, and give the 19th hole, an important revenue stream for all golf operations, a new look and feel. And even a new name.

“We gave the whole place a facelift, especially the restaurant,” he explained. “It was time for a fresh coat of paint, work behind the bar, new pictures of the golf course on the walls, moving the TVs, changing the name from Valley View restaurant to the Sunset Grille, and going with a whole new brand and marketing campaign.”

The new name highlights one of the course’s hallmarks — dramatic sunsets — and attempts to capitalize on that asset, said Fontaine, who said was inspired by what he saw in Key West, which is famous for its sunsets and people turning out to watch them.

He said the course has generally done well with visitation — 25,000 rounds last year — but needs a break from Mother Nature as well as a break from the negative publicity that hasn’t been good for business.

South Hadley at a Glance

Year Incorporated: 1775
Population: 17,791
Area: 18.4 square miles
County: Hampshire
Residential and commercial tax rate: $20.15 (Fire District 1); $20.55 (Fire District 2)
Median Household Income: $46,678
Median Family Income: $58,693
Type of government: Town meeting
Largest Employers: Mount Holyoke College; the Loomis Communities; Coveris Advanced Coatings; Big Y
* Latest information available

“We’re beating the numbers from last year, and we’re hitting our revenue goals despite losing three weekends in a row, including Mother’s Day weekend, due to rain — money we’ll never get back,” he said. “We’ll have a much better understanding of where we’re at when this year is over.”

While the picture seems to be improving at the Ledges, the picture is changing on Newton Street, especially at the Woodlawn Shopping Plaza.

While there is still significant retail there — the plaza is home to a Rocky’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dollar General, the Egg & I restaurant (a recent addition), the Parthenon restaurant, Mandarin Gourmet, and more — the former Big Y site was proving difficult to redevelop, said Falcone, noting that, after efforts to find a replacement supermarket were exhausted, the building was razed in 2018 with the goal of bringing more options to the fore, including residential.

The proposed 72-unit apartment complex will fill a need within the community for both affordable and market-rate housing, said Falcone, adding that this reuse is consistent with how many malls and shopping plazas are being repurposed at a time when stores are closing at an alarming rate and malls — and communities — are forced to be imaginative in a changing retail landscape.

“We looked at options to possibly subdivide the Big Y property, but we couldn’t get any junior anchors,” said Falcone, adding that the owners spent roughly the past year and half looking for smaller tenants, but to no avail.

“Retail is changing — people are getting away from retail and putting more focus on service and entertainment,” he said, adding that the town created an overlay district within the Newton Street area that allows for mixed-use development and residential space, which brings us to the plans currently on the table.

“We thought this would be a good option and a good opportunity,” said Falcone, adding that research revealed demand for such housing. “If you look at Village Commons, those apartments are always full, and my understanding is there’s a waiting list to get in there. So we think South Hadley is a great community for some additional housing.”

Sullivan agreed. “We’re a vibrant community for condominium development, and there’s considerable demand for them — we have condominiums on the riverfront selling for more than $400,000,” he noted. “But we think this proposed development balances things out; it provides another option for housing.”

The Gig-speed Economy

They’re called ‘fiberhoods.’

That’s the name the South Hadley Electric Light Department (SHELD) has given to areas, or neighborhoods, in the community that will be provided with FiberSonic, which will make gigabit-speed internet available to residential homes; the service is already available to South Hadley businesses.

SHELD is starting in the Ridge Road area — the service will be available there in July — and will proceed to the Old Lyman Road fiberhood in August, and the Hollywood Street area in September. By year’s end, 700 homes should be covered by the project, and the 32 identified fiberhoods will be added in phases over the next five years, said Sean Fitzgerald, SHELD’s general manager.

“Establishing fiber-optic internet service throughout the town will bring added convenience and, more importantly, will accommodate the ever-growing bandwidth need for South Hadley customers,” said Fitzgerald, who described FiberSonic as “home-grown, gig-speed Internet.”

This service should help make South Hadley a more attractive option for a growing number of professionals who essentially call the office home, even as they work for companies in Boston, New York, and Seattle, said Sullivan.

“When you can access a high-paying job in New York City, Boston, Montreal, or even Los Angeles, and you might have to only go to the home office once a month or once a week and the rest of the day work at home, your housing costs are lower and quality of life is higher in Western Mass.,” he explained. “We’re seeing more of this in South Hadley, and the new internet service will make this community even more attractive.”

As the overall pace of change accelerates, the town looks to anticipate what the future might bring — and be prepared for it — with an update to a master plan drafted roughly a decade ago.

That document, the town’s first master plan in more than three decades, included no less than 200 recommended actions, said Town Planner Richard Harris, noting that this represents an obviously unachievable number, although many have been implemented, especially in the realms of housing, recreation, and creation of growth districts.

He expects that the updated plan, to be completed by year’s end, will be more strategic in nature.

“While it will still be broad, because the nature of a master plan is broad, we’re expecting it to be more strategic in focus and more related to the current organizational structure and long-term needs of the community,” he told BusinessWest. “I wouldn’t expect as much focus on zoning and land use as the last plan, and instead more on how to capitalize on what we have done.”

There have been a number of community forums staged to solicit commentary and input about the plan and what it should include, as well as smaller, more informal sessions within neighborhoods called “meetings in a box,” said Harris, adding that a draft of a new plan should be ready for additional review by the fall and a final document in place by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the town isn’t waiting for the new plan to address a long-term concern and probable hindrance to growth — the hodgepodge of zoning along the Route 202 corridor, roughly from Route 33 into Granby Town Commons.

“Both towns have the leftover remnants of a ’60s regional road,” he explained, noting that there are homes next to dinosaur-track stops next to other forms of business. “It’s not very well-organized; there’s a weird mix, and we think there is a real need for conformity.

“If we could get that conformity, there’s enough business traffic going into Belchertown, Ware, and, beyond that, Amherst — and we can harness that traffic,” he went on, adding there have been discussions with officials in Granby about zoning and also infrastructure and perhaps tying properties along that corridor into South Hadley’s sewer system, a development that would benefit both communities.

“We hope this will bring more investment to those commercial properties along 202 in South Hadley,” Harris explained. “That will result in more tax dollars — and it would be great to have more people to share the tax burden with.”

Bottom Line

Those last sentiments accurately reflect a goal, and an ongoing challenge, spanning decades: creating more opportunities to share the tax burden.

South Hadley has always been a great place to live — and now also play golf and walk your dog. Greater balance in the form of new businesses and better use of existing and potential commercial property has always been a goal and priority.

And between the proposed new housing project, faster internet service, and progress along the Route 202 corridor, the community is making more headway toward realizing that goal.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of April 2019.

AMHERST

Jones Library Inc.
43 Amity St.
$9,677 — Door and hardware

CHICOPEE

City of Chicopee
90 Call St.
$75,500 — Install handicap-accessible bathroom in existing building in Nash Park

Houston Enterprises Inc.
1307 Memorial Dr.
$162,018 — Interior renovations to KFC dining room, including new wall finishes, decor package, front counter, and lighting

HY Management, LLC
362 Springfield St.
$20,000 — Roofing

McDonald’s Corp.
1460 Memorial Dr.
$300,000 — Interior renovations, including restroom upgrade, new dining-room finishes and furniture, new front counter with finishes, and installation of self-order kiosks

Pride Convenience Inc.
167 Chicopee St.
$5,000 — Interior remodeling; move existing wall and construct new walls to move self-serve beverage counters and add customer-service area

TGTBT 1, LLC
41 Sheridan St.
$32,000 — Build walls, sheetrock flooring, laminant, carpet

EASTHAMPTON

Trinity Lutheran Church
2 Clark St.
$7,590 — Install 18 replacement windows

GREENFIELD

James Renaud, Theresa Renaud
259 Federal St.
$13,683 — Install 42 solar panels

J.J. Smith Properties, LLC
30 Mohawk Trail
$4,000 — Roofing

HADLEY

Paul Benjamin
2 Bay Road
$1,800 — Remove and replace asphalt shingles

Ronald Bercume, Irene Bercume
185 Russell St.
$38,000 — Minor interior renovations to change from residential to office use

LONGMEADOW

Rinaldi’s Realty, LLC
410 Longmeadow St.
$10,000 — Alter/demolish existing furniture, fixtures, interior partitions, and drop ceilings

Town of Longmeadow
1161 Williams St.
$21,250 — Furnish and install two new dugouts at field

NORTHAMPTON

Coolidge Northampton, LLC
243 King St., Suite 112
$10,300 — Add additional treatment area to existing space

Paul D’Amour
122 North King St.
$2,206 — Illuminated ground sign for Planet Fitness

Maiewski Properties, LLC
320 Elm St.
$11,515 — Install seven replacement windows

Stephen Rondeau
122 North King St.
$623,700 — Interior tenant fit-out for Planet Fitness

Valley Building Co. Inc.
98 Market St.
$8,800 — New stairs to replace metal fire-scape

SPRINGFIELD

City of Springfield
101 Dwight St.
$3,826,000 — Alterations for new monumental staircase and refurbish elevator and park grounds at Pynchon Park

Meredith Corp.
1300 Liberty St.
$65,000 — Replace ceiling and exterior windows, install partitions

New England Farm Workers Council Inc.
32 Hampden St.
$34,518.97 — Install new fire-alarm system

Stavros Center for Independent Living Inc.
227 Berkshire Ave.
$115,604 — Install solar panels to existing building

Joseph Wanyama
1579 State St.
$7,000 — Repair walls and ceiling, replace eight windows

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Crown Castle
120 Interstate Dr.
$20,000 — AT&T to replace three antennas and add three antennas to existing configuration; replace three remote radio units and add three remote radio units

Entre Pearson, LLC
138 Memorial Dr.
$12,500 — Interior build-out of demised tenant space

WILBRAHAM

Ken’s Realty, LLC
2821 Boston Road
$14,875 — Roofing

SBA Towers IX, LLC
720 Ridge Road
$40,000 — Swap out six antennas and install emergency backup generator

Wilbraham & Monson Academy
423-451 Main St.
$3,685,000 — Instruct new athenaeum building

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of November 2018.

CHICOPEE

Chicopee Crossing, LLC
474 Memorial Dr.
$43,920 — Add addition onto newly constructed commercial building

Chicopee Falls Lodge 1849
244 Fuller Road
$37,185 — Remove existing tile and subfloor, remove existing joist, replace with new subflooring

Chicopee Hospitality, LLC
450 Memorial Dr.
$15,500 — Roofing

Fandave, LLC
1512 Memorial Dr.
$3,629 — Replace picture window and double-hung window

Guidewire Inc.
1974 Westover Road
$8,700 — Install fire-alarm system

Pioneer Valley Church of Christ
85 Montcalm St.
$15,000 — Remove section of block wall and install header and fire door; install platform and handicap ramp

NORTHAMPTON

American Dream Realty
55 Damon Road
$6,000 — Illuminated ground sign for Dunkin’ Donuts

Atwood Drive, LLC
23 Atwood Dr.
$13,000 — Demising wall for tenant fit-out

Paul Brown
3 Market St.
$18,000 — Replace all windows on rear side of building

City of Northampton
26 Carlon Dr.
$1,000 — Remove and replace door and frame in back service entrance of fire station

City of Northampton
80 Locust St.
$13,625 — Remove sink from bathroom at Smith School, frame new alcove in hallway, and install drop in deep-bowl sink

City of Northampton
North Maple Street
$15,750 — Play structure at Arcanum Field

Cooley Dickinson Hospital
8 Atwood Dr.
$20,000 — Illuminated pylon sign

Cooper’s Dairyland of Northampton Inc.
49 State St.
$3,000 — Rebuild emergency egress guardrail

Equinox Partners, LLC
118 River Road
$247,946 — Install solar panels on roof

Hospital Hill Development, LLC
Prince Street
$2,160 — Non-illuminated wall sign for ServiceNet

Hospital Hill Development, LLC
Prince Street
$4,800 — Non-illuminated ground sign for ServiceNet

Massachusetts Audubon Society
123 Combs Road
$5,000 — Add screened-in porch to existing outbuilding

Strong Ave., LLC
15 Strong Ave.
$5,400 — Illuminated wall sign for Ananda Khalsa Jewelry

Robert Thomas
259 Elm St.
$1,028,618 — Interior renovation of Autumn Inn

Richard Webber and William Grinnell
8 North King St.
$85,770 — Roof-mounted solar array

PALMER

Baystate Wing Hospital
40 Wright St.
$667,151 — Anti-ligature upgrades for psychiatric facility

South Middlesex Opportunity Council
2032 Main St.
$466,825 — Renovate space for commercial use on first floor and residential use above

SPRINGFIELD

125 Paridon Street, LLC
125 Paridon St.
$20,000 — Remove and replace six existing antennas and three remote radio units, three hybrid cables, and one generator on smokestack
Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC
12 MGM Way
$35,000 — Install double door entry and access ramp to CEF building at MGM Springfield

Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC
12 MGM Way
$10,000 — Install and extend concrete piers to raise existing smoking shelters on second-floor roof deck at MGM Springfield

Dennis Chaffee and John Wietecha
412 Albany St.
$59,000 — Install mezzanine within existing storage area for additional storage at Valley Plating

Jon Realty, LLC
230 Verge St.
$20,000 — Remove three cellular antennas and install four new antennas on monopole; swap three remote radio units and install three hybrid fiber lines

Linden Towers, LLC
310 Stafford St.
$35,000 — Remove and replace three roof-mounted cellular antennas

New England Farm Workers
1624 Main St.
$25,700 — Install two non-bearing walls; install exterior doors and new bathroom fixtures

Picknelly Family, LP
1414 Main St.
$319,440 — Alter office space on 18th floor for Ameriprise Financial

Related Springfield Associates, LP
10 Chestnut St.
$20,000 — Remove one cabinet and six roof-mounted antennas; install six antennas, one cabinet, three remote radio units, and three hybrid cables

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
35 Everett St.
$38,500 — Alter space for new accessible restrooms on first floor of Sacred Heart Convent and Parish Center

Vibra Healthcare Real Estate Co. II, LLC
1400 State St.
$20,000 — Install three new antennas, three remote radio units, three tripod ballast mounts, and three hybrid cables at Vibra Hospital

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of August 2018.

AGAWAM

BGM Realty, LLC
237-241 South Westfield St.
$454,250 — Alter tenant space for new care clinic
ICNE Group Realty, LLC
1070 Suffield St.
$14,500 — Roofing

Greg Popielarczyk, Audrey Popielarczyk
135 Country Road
$4,974 — Deck off existing above-ground pool

Pride Convenience Inc.
6 North Westfield St.
$15,700 — Replace storefront glass, modify food-service area, remove and replace gasoline canopy fascia

AMHERST

Gleason Johndrow Rentals, LLC
6 University Dr.
$33,656 — Remodel space to accommodate store

Gleason Johndrow Rentals, LLC
10 University Dr.
$10,000 — Build new entry counter at the Hangar for hostess and takeout

Village Center North Amherst, LLC
83 Sunderland Road
$2,363 — Roofing

Village Center North Amherst, LLC
83 Sunderland Road
$2,000 — Alter stairwell space to increase adjoining room size

CHICOPEE

Matthew Bogacz
12 Riverview Place
$17,602 — Roofing

Gregg Nanni
820 Memorial Dr.
$5,000 — Replace exterior plywood and siding; replace interior drywall, fix drop ceiling, and install wall tile

Polish National Credit Union
46 Main St.
$29,000 — Modify existing sprinkler system

Jo-Ann Smith
393 New Ludlow Road
$50,000 — Install paint booth form and install new concrete floor

Valley Opportunity
640 Chicopee St.
$82,925.57 — Replace 119 windows

SPRINGFIELD

George Abdow Jr.
155 Brookdale Dr.
$250,000 — Alter office space on second floor

C & W Breckwood Redalty Co.
1060 Wilbraham Road
$17,600 — Install fire-alarm monitoring system in Save a Lot store

City of Springfield
1250 State St.
$61,780 — Alter two glass entrances at Springfield High School of Science and Technology

F.B. Development, LLC
1537 Main St.
$170,000 — Alter tenant office space on second, third, and fourth floors of Fuller Block Building

South Campus Group
140 High St.
$270,000 — Alter office space on second floor

Stemalies Inc.
2 Orange St.
$1,800 — Install bracing in roof structure for additional support for roof-mounted mechanical equipment

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of July 2018.

AGAWAM

McLean Realty Co.
197 Main St.
$98,288 — Install sprinkler system

OSC Property, LLC
325-327 Walnut St. Ext.
$7,500 — Mounted sign for Family Appliance

Walnut Plaza, LLC
365-385 Walnut St. Ext.
$20,000 — Demolish three walls for doctor’s office

Western Mass. Electric Co.
198 Springfield St.
$25,000 — Modify existing cellular equipment

CHICOPEE

Grace Slavic Pentecostal Church
5 Meadow St.
$10,000 — Roofing

Main Street Property
340 McKinstry Ave.
$3,000 — Construct two partitions to create an office and break room within existing tenant space

Anthony Maloni
140 Exchange St.
$5,200 — Build stairway and landing from first floor to second floor

Poor Richard’s
116 School St.
$13,300 — Demolish balcony, extend bar, light truss, and railings

EASTHAMPTON

Keystone Enterprises
122 Pleasant St.
$13,200 — Interior build-out of Unit 123

DEERFIELD

Bement School
94 Old Main St.
$29,447 — Exterior work on barn and arts building

Bement School
94 Old Main St.
$14,977 — Add half bathroom to Drake building

Bement School
94 Old Main St.
$52,470 — Modify office space, add kitchen, and related work at Barton Hall

EAST LONGMEADOW

Cartamundi
443 Shaker Road
$8,500 — Indoor steel tank

Meadow Brook School
607 Parker St.
$1,770,877 — Windows and doors, etc.

GREENFIELD

142 Mohawk Trail Greenfield, LLC
142 Mohawk Trail
$12,048 — Roofing

Thomas Dillon Jr., James Dillon
54 Main St.
$27,920 — Roofing, remove skylights

Jebco Realty Associates, LLC
289 Main St.
$25,879 — Construct conference room on third floor

Syfeld Greenfield Associates, LLC
253 Mohawk Trail
$8,700 — Install manual fire-alarm system, enlarge bathroom for handicapped access

Syfeld Greenfield Associates, LLC
259 Mohawk Trail
$470,000 — Tenant fit-up for Planet Fitness

Peter White
55 Main St.
Replacement sign

HADLEY

Carmelina’s Real Estate, LLC
96 Russell St.
$19,060.83 — Install 23 windows

Carmelina’s Real Estate, LLC
96 Russell St.
$3,687.30 — Install two gutters

ENZ, LLC
207 Russell St.
$57,000 — Fit out space for F45 Gym, including two bathrooms, shower, and office

ENZ, LLC
207 Russell St.
$302,000 — Complete original shell space for future tenants, pour concrete, insulate perimeter walls and ceilings, install ADA bathroom

Pearson Hadley, LLC
380 Russell St.
$1,200 — New wall sign

LONGMEADOW

Bay Path University
588 Longmeadow St.
$51,500 — Roofing

NORTHAMPTON

City of Northampton
42 Gothic St.
$2,000 — Build office in existing classroom

Goddard Kelley
21 Locust St.
$1,000 — Wall sign for Hair’s the Thing

Goddard Kelley
21 Locust St.
$1,500 — Ground sign for Hair’s the Thing

Hampshire Franklin & Hampden Agricultural Society
54 Fair St.
$1,500 — Siding on grandstand structure at fairgrounds

Hospital Hill Development, LLC
Prince Street
$2,308 — Non-illuminated entrance sign

Massachusetts Audubon Society Inc.
127 Combs Road
$7,500 — Five replacement windows

Paul Picknelly
118 Conz St.
$8,650 — Add vesibule at rear egress

Huang Yuting
30 Strong Ave.
$1,500 — Illuminated wall sign

PALMER

Camp Ramah of New England
39 Bennett St.
$1,500 — Replace bathroom floor in summer-camp building

Carmine Capua
2048 Main St.
$3,000 — Repair and upgrade fire-alarm system at Burgundy Brook Café

Carmine Capua
2048 Main St.
$2,000 — Install fire-suppression system for kitchen hood and cooking appliances as Burgundy Brook Café

David Mill
1003-1013 Church St.
$26,100 — Finish portion of first-floor area

Rathbone Realty
1241 Park St.
$10,855 — Reinforce existing joists for new RTUs on roof

SPRINGFIELD

Beaudry Electric
355 Berkshire Ave.
$15,000 — Install fire-alarm system

City of Springfield
180 Cooley St.
$165,500 — Replace interior doors at Kiley Middle School

DF Main Street, LLC
145 Union St.
$400,000 — Install fire alarm in MGM Springfield Early Childhood Center

Dwight Station, LLC
95 Frank B. Murray St.
$60,000 — Alter interior tenant office space for Sunrise Behavioral Health Clinic

GELW Mass, LLC
1319 Main St.
$30,000 — Alter tenant spaces from retail to business use

Mercy Medical Center
300 Stafford St.
$71,150 — Alter medical office tenant space on second floor

James Popham
300 Locust St.
$17,000 — Alter space to change use from business to church

Trinity Health Of New England
401 Chestnut St.
$135,557 — Alter space for new exam room and hall in basement; alter accessible ramp at front entrance

TRT Springdale, LLC
1610 Boston Road
$444,000 — Interior alterations and accessibility updates at McDonald’s restaurant

Ma Xiuyu
894 Carew St.
$10,000 — Repairs to bring two break-room kitchens to code compliance

WARE

Baystate Restoration
63 A-D North St.
$6,000 — Four new HVAC systems

Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. and Business Assistance Corp.
65 Main St.
$5,000 — Enlarge bathroom, new steel door, basement firewall

Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. and Business Assistance Corp.
69 Main St.
$5,000 — Enlarge bathroom, enlarge hall, new steel door

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Derdy, LLC
89 Baldwin St.
$42,000 — Demolish interior wood and masonry walls

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
511 Main St.
$1,600,000 — Alter existing toilet facilities, convert existing spaces into toilet facilities, new administrative offices, three new classrooms, mechanical ventilation upgrades, repairs to domestic water service, new fire-alarm system, new fire-protection service, and new sprinkler system

Sisters of Providence
100 Hillside Circle
$6,600,396 — Construct 36-unit assisted-living housing facility

Sisters of Providence
200 Hillside Circle
$1,500,000 — Renovate existing commercial space into office space; new HVAC, offices, sprinklers, electrical, four bathrooms

WILBRAHAM

Wilbraham & Monson Academy
40 Faculty St.
$40,000 — Replace 11 windows in athletic center