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A rendering of the The Berkshire, a $24 million upscale hotel that is proposed for the former Searles Middle School complex on Bridge Street in Great Barrington, Mass.

Permit sought for $24 million upscale hotel to replace dormant Searles School

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By Monday, Sep 21, 2015 News 26

Great Barrington — A slightly derelict and vacant section of Bridge Street is about to change, and with it, the economy and breadth of the entire town, as the former Searles School complex is transformed into a $22 to $24 million, 95-room boutique hotel, if the Selectboard grants a special permit.

Over cups of spicy Indian tea, local hotel developers Vijay and Chrystal Mahida unveiled their plans for The Berkshire, a AAA 4-diamond luxury hotel smack in the middle of town, across from the Berkshire Co-op Market, and next to the new world headquarters of Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, LLC, that now occupies the renovated former Bryant Elementary School.

The Searles School on Bridge Street.

The Searles School on Bridge Street. Photo: Victor Feldman

The application from 79 Bridge Street LLC for a special permit to demolish the Searles School and build the hotel hits Town Hall on Tuesday morning (September 22). From there it will pass through the Conservation Commission and Planning Board before it goes to the Selectboard for a final decision.

If you are wondering how a 95-room hotel is even allowed in town, well, that is because of the project’s historic designation, issued by the Great Barrington Historical Commission, which permits it to bypass the town’s 45-room limit bylaw.

The former Searles complex was abandoned 10 years ago after the Berkshire Hills Regional School District decided it would be cheaper to build new schools rather than to renovate the Bryant Elementary School and Searles Middle School campus to bring them into compliance with state standards and regulations. Since June of 2005, the Searles complex has remained vacant, attracting vandals and drug users to its site next to the Housatonic River.

The entire complex was scooped up by the Iredale company, and the Mahidas say they did extensive research before deciding on Searles, and then again before deciding to demolish it and build anew. The reported $850,000 sale to the Mahidas is contingent upon permits being issued by the town.

The Berkshire, the Mahidas say, will be “state-of-the-art everything,” with an indoor pool, fitness room, 5,000-square foot conference room, a bar and upscale farm-to-table restaurant with as much local sourcing as possible.

The hotel will be a modern interpretation of classic New England style, with an interior that is “airy, light, fresh,” said Chrystal Mahida, who will be the owner the hotel that her husband says is “close to her heart” in the Mahida family’s local hospitality empire. Details will be “thoughtful,” say both Mahidas, a word they use to describe the entire process so far, and the way it will continue, with an estimated opening date of Spring 2017, depending on the length of the permitting process.

Vijay and Chrystal Mahida in a derelict classroom in the Searles School during a tour of the structure.

Vijay and Chrystal Mahida in a derelict classroom in the Searles School during a tour of the structure.

They say they are patient. They want to get this just right.

The Mahidas have been busy, in what Vijay Mahida sees as a snowball effect. Years ago they started with the Monument Mountain Inn, later creating the Day’s Inn on South Main Street, and in 2004 built the Comfort Inn off Stockbridge Road. Along with Vijay Mahida’s brother Pravin, they have another venture in Lenox, and also are poised to open their latest hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Pittsfield, in back of Guido’s Fresh Marketplace.

But The Berkshire will not be part of a chain. The Mahidas say the town doesn’t need anymore of these; the new growth in the hotel sector is amenity-driven, targeted to people who want – and can afford — a boutique lodging experience as much as the destination town itself. They are not looking to compete with other hotels or bed and breakfasts, including their own. By “diversifying the market,” Chrystal Mahida says, they will reach people looking for that experience who might otherwise just pass on through the town. They envision a $200 to $600 per night room rate.

They say they have heard of New Yorkers who bypass Great Barrington and drive straight through the Berkshires on their way to Manchester, Vermont’s Equinox Hotel, a boutique resort. The Mahidas want to stop them from going any farther than Great Barrington, where on foot they can eat, hike and be entertained to their heart’s delight.

“Throughout history,” Vijay Mahida said, “Great Barrington has always had a vibrant downtown, and one component of this was the boutique hotel.” Indeed, there was the Berkshire Inn, which burned down in 1965; there was Barrington House, and another in the building on the corner of Main and Bridge.

“We looked at the market, and looked at what the family can do to bring uniqueness to town,” he said.

“We’re looking at what doesn’t exist here right now,” Chrystal Mahida said. “It’s a niche.”

And, she adds, the hotel will “complement the transition that we’re going through with downtown construction.”

The idea started brewing in Vijay Mahida’s mind years ago when Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Executive Director Beryl Jolly suggested an “upscale” hotel. No wonder the idea of tourist foot traffic around town — without the parking strain — could easily appeal to someone in Jolly’s position, not to mention all the merchants who would benefit. Some have thanked him “for investing that much money,” downtown. All the positive feedback has “pleasantly surprised” him and gives him “encouragement” to move forward, he says.

The Searles gymnasium on whose footprint a convention and recreation center would be built.

The Searles gymnasium on whose footprint a convention and recreation center would be built.

The town might also be licking its chops at the estimated $400,000 in annual tax revenue on a project that requires zero taxpayer money. “We’re using our own money,” Vijay Mahida said. “We are not asking the town to give us any tax break, as other developers have asked of towns.”

Twenty-five or so new jobs will be created by the hotel.

Mahida, who came to the Berkshires from India about 20 years ago without a penny in his pocket or English on his tongue, says he and his wife are “responsible developers.” He says it earnestly, without a hint of grandiosity.

“We live here, our kids go to school here, and I make my living doing business in the community,” he says, noting all the research that went into the project, and also the involvement of Jane Iredale and her husband, Iredale CEO Bob Montgomery. Design approval was required from Iredale as part of the sale agreement. Iredale and Montgomery, for instance, recommended the Mahidas use their historical colorist, Carl Black, a Hudson, New York, painter. And Black will collaborate with the hotel’s designer, BMA Architectural Group out of Amherst, New Hampshire. Attention to these details, Mahida says, will “honor the history.”

The historical aspect is something that might raise a few nostalgic hackles. Some may feel a loss at the old high school’s demise. It was built in 1890s­, designed by architect Henry Vaughan, primarily a church architect who designed parts of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. But Searles was the first school building Vaughan had designed. The separate gym building, added in the 1930s, is where the town voted before the new fire station was built.

The Mahidas, seated at the table with Attorney Kate McCormick, present their proposal to the Historic Commission.

The Mahidas, seated at the table with Attorney Kate McCormick, present their proposal to the Historical Commission. Commission Chair Paul Ivory is in the yellow sweater. Photo: David Scribner

The Mahidas went before the town’s Historical Commission in February to begin the process of historical designation that would allow them to bypass the 45-room limit law, and the commission knew from the beginning that a demolition might be in the cards. Chairman Paul Ivory said by phone that the commission can’t endorse the tearing down of an historic structure. “It doesn’t make sense,” Ivory said of a bylaw that allows the razing of a historic building after it was designated historic. The bylaw, he said, is then “toothless, worthless.” Ivory said he didn’t see how the town could approve it, adding that demolition would “distress” the commission, and thought the seller should have found a developer who could make “sensitive reuse” of the edifice.

The Mahidas are not unsympathetic, and they plan to save some elements, like old chalkboards and doors, and use them in the hotel.

“State and federal laws for ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance make it difficult and expensive to reuse a building,” Chrystal Mahida said. “The design challenge was how to honor the history of the existing building while at same time incorporating ADA, fire and safety, and the safety of all guests.”

There will be some asbestos remediation in annex, but beyond that there are no environmental issues.

The Berkshire will follow a footprint similar to that of the Searles complex, with the gym area dropped from the current level to keep the height of the new building about the same. The area where the back annex building is now will be the site of the pool and fitness area.

While the front of the building will feature welcoming wrap-around-porches, it is that back area that will be the arrival area and parking.

The former Log Homes site where the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire has proposed a $40 million residential and commercial development.

The former New England Log Homes site where the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire has proposed a $40 million residential and commercial development.

Chrystal Mahida sees The Berkshire as “something special for Great Barrington,” that will complement the other great Berkshire County luxury hotels such as The Red Lion Inn, Wheatley, and Blantyre.

The Mahidas will donate to the Housatonic River Walk, an adjacent asset to their hotel, which Vijay Mahida says is a “blessing.”

And Bridge Street itself is looking at a revival. The $40 million 100 Bridge Street re-development on the old Log Homes site is still going to happen, according to Community Development Corporation of Southern Berkshire Executive Director Timothy Geller. And the Bridge Street bridge is soon to be repaired to increase its weight load.

“You can come, park your car, stay, you can dine one meal or so with us, you can walk downtown to experience everything,” Vijay Mahida says. “We’re not going to hold you hostage to spend all your money with us.”

Mahida also says his company will get it done: “Any project we start, we get it done. We’re getting more experience, we have a great team. If I didn’t believe in this, we wouldn’t have invested in it.”


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26 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Ritch says:

    Seriously? This story leaves me exhausted. When I read the Edge story this past winter that these fine folks were going to convert the Searles School to a boutique hotel, I cheered “yea for them and for GB”. Finally, there would be a “sensitive adaptation of an abandoned resource in town”and I had a sense of pride in GB and the Mahidas for showing some vision. But now I see this!
    Two things distress me.. the first of which is the appearance of the building. I hate to judge a book by it’s cover, or a building by a single rendering, but as it appears now, this proposed structure is no better or different than the 3 story renderings of the pre-fab chain hotels on the “ugly end of town”. What kind of “historical architect” stacks arched windows? It’s thin, wall-paper approach to historical tradition is easy to see through. If you want to rip off the Red Lion Inn, I suggest you go back to the drawing board. Check your roof lines, your window styles, your pediments and shadow lines.. and that hideous vinyl yellow. Or even better, if you want to see how a boutique hotel can fit in an existing structure, look at what the RLI folks accomplished with the Hotel on North in Pittsfield. That is an “in-town hotel”. This proposal looks like it belongs on the missing Exit 3.5 on the Mass Pike.
    But more distressing is the idea that a building can be designated as “historically significant” in Great Barrington, and then torn down? This designation was designed specifically to prevent this from happening! Who wrote and approved that by-law and to what end? Help me understand the rationale, please.
    Sometimes being sensitive does cost a bit more, and the Mahidas suggest that quality, not cost, is their motivating factor here. I would ask that our town leaders return this project to the drawing board now and prevent the blight of blandness on the north end of town from creeping into the heart of a Greater Barrington.

  2. Laury epstein says:

    This hotel is such a bad idea that i dont even know where to start. Instead, i ask that readers consult the comment below, which spells out some objections very clearly. But more important, why are the same people who passed a law limiting the height of buildings in town the ones who are now happily ignoring said bylaw. Is it simply hypocrisy or what?

  3. GMHeller says:

    Reporter Bellow writes, “The entire complex was scooped up by the Iredale company ……..”
    When did Iredale sell the Searles School property to Mr. and Mrs. Mahida, and how much did The Mahidas pay Iredale for the parcel?

    1. Heather Bellow says:

      Hi Glenn–Good question. I added the information in. Reportedly an $850,000 sale price contingent on permits being approved.

      1. GMHeller says:

        Hi Heather,
        Wasn’t transfer of the complex as approved at Town Meeting by GB voters on May 14, 2007 conditioned on preservation and rehabilitation of the major structures on the property?
        Further, during the ensuing town meeting debate leading up to that vote, was not demolition discussed and totally rejected by the voters?
        Also, wasn’t this stipulation prohibiting demolition one of the rationales that the Selectboard gave to the public as to why it was necessary to sell the complex cheap, and also the reason Iredale was able to buy the property at a firesale price?

  4. Nick Stanton says:

    Hi believe the essential intent of Vijay and Chrystal Mahida is good, however, I am distressed by two related aspects of this proposal first the complete disappearance of the high school façade and second the way that is possible with a bylaw we thought would protect historic structures. The loss of the façade and its replacement buy a porch that is such an obvious take off from Fitzpatrick projects suggest a lack of sensitivity from which I actually feel pain. I hope the Mahidas take these comments to heart along with those above and make some changes to the design that allow this building to respond in a more accurate and sensitive way to the history of the site and the town.

  5. tamara says:

    Why upscale? We who were born and raised here,can barely afford to Shop down town,now they want upscale?
    How about more affordable housing for those who bust their butts to survive here,some working multiple jobs,to make ends meet,People who want to own homes can’t around here because the cost of them are so high,I love this town,but it is getting harder and harder,when things like this are mentioned,it’s depressing!

  6. Bruce says:

    If this project goes through as the demolition job that’s contemplated, it sets a horrific precedent for the prospect of retaining historic properties in Great Barrington. What’s to stop someone from purchasing any of the Main Street blocks and tearing them down under the guise of similar reasoning and putting up who knows what? For the record, check the architect’s web site for some design insight. Their primary client list is all those hotel chains that supposedly this project is not going to emulate. Ha. It’s no wonder the rendering looks like every ersatz faux-lonial chain hotel you’ve seen on every freeway off-ramp and strip mall. This is shameful — the last thing we need is another fakey looking old timey building. Please, GB powers that be, let’s not get snowed by all this phony baloney.

  7. Laurie Norton Moffatt says:

    Thank you Heather Bellow for this comprehensive reporting about The Berkshire, a new hotel proposed by Vijay and Chrystal Mahida. Through the Mahida’s investments in friendly, clean, affordable and well-maintained hotels, the Mahidas have served well many visitors to the Berkshires who contribute to our economy, which in turn supports our businesses, our tax base, schools and provide jobs. The investments in saving our old school buildings that the Iredales and the Mahidas have made and propose to make in southern Berkshire County are significant and we are extremely fortunate to have these civic-minded business leaders in our community.

    As a life-long architectural historic preservationist, I do want to urge the developers of this proposed hotel to be inspired by one of the unique assets that make the Berkshires so beautiful and special: the outstanding and rich variety of architectural heritage that contributes to the sense of community and design around us. Adaptive reuse has resulted in keeping so many splendid buildings alive with life and purpose. Example after example can be sited, beginning with Iredale Mineral Cosmetics beautiful adaptive reuse of Bryant School. Then there is Searles Castle, The Stockbridge Plain School/Williams High School which is now the Stockbridge Town Hall; the old Curtis Hotel in Lenox, the new Hotel on North in Pittsfield; Porches; MASS MoCA, Elmcourt; Blantyre; Wheatleigh; Canyon Ranch; Kripalu and the many cultural organizations that breathed new life into old Estates – there are dozens and dozens of examples.

    It would be an irreplaceable loss to the fabric of Great Barrington to lose this old structure. Whether boutique hotel, affordable housing, artist live/work space, or mixed use commercial, residential and artist space, it would be wonderful to see the Mahidas repurpose the existing structure into an interesting new community and visitor use.

    I am grateful to the investors and entrepreneurs who invest their personal resources, time and talent into our community. They take big risks and support our community. I urge a closer examination of the possibilities for this old structure to preserve our architectural heritage and to maintain the unique architectural tapestry of the Berkshires.

    1. Carl Stewart says:

      There is so much that rings false in this puff PR piece by Ms. Moffatt that it is near impossible to know where to begin to address the issues.

      Coming at almost the same time that the town fathers approved the expansion of an ugly hotel on the Stockbridge Road, viz., the Holiday Inn Express, we are seeing the almost total abdication of our traditional values to the God Mammon. Shouldn’t surprise anyone, though. This single-minded pursuit of the dollar has become the American way. And although we thought that we were special in southern Berkshire County, we were really just doing a good job of fooling ourselves.

  8. Mark says:

    It’s challenging to stay positive about a lot of changes in town. I was all for the infrastructure being updated, even the sidewalks and roads needed fixing. But I guess we all have our “thing”. parking spaces are gone. The farmers market moved back into town. It put the church parking lot into red alert. The chamber of commerce came up with some parking program called spot saver. That’s fallen to the way side. SO let’s build more businesses that take up MORE parking spots. Exactly WHERE do the people who live, work and shop downtown supposed to park? Oh and in the winter you can’t park on the street over night. But most parking lots are turning into gold lots for the owners of them. I thought one of the reasons I moved here from NYC was to get away from this. Great planning. Just shows greed and lack of thinking to me.

  9. Jim Johnson says:

    I say good for the Mahida’s and their plans. Why is everyone in this town so obsessed with blocking progress? They want to invest $24 MILLION into a building that is beyond repair, but you people want to bitch and moan about it because its “historic”. I know, lets allow the building to sit and rot another decade and not earn a dime for the tax rolls in town, while allowing it to continue as a haven for drug dealers/users etc.. If its not organic, hippy-dippy and reeking of patchouli oil no one in this town wants anything to do with it. You complain about being taxed out of town, but then fight any projects that could generate revenue for the town and keep taxes level. Get your heads on straight people. Without progress GB will become the next Canaan CT.

    1. GMHeller says:

      Jim Johnson,
      The concept of demolition was debated at Town Meeting in 2007 and rejected. The promise of renovation and preservation was the reason Iredale got the parcel so cheap. Now Iredale Cosmetics and its partner/proxy The Mahidas want to change the terms of the original deal. Are you aware of how little Iredale paid for the parcel with the promise that the structures upon it would be rehabilitated and preserved? At minimum, let the voters take up the matter again at Annual Town Meeting and let the voters decide whether the buildings at issue in the Searles-Bryant complex should be preserved or demolished.

      1. Jim Johnson says:

        Regardless of what the original intent was at town meeting, the fact remains that these buildings have become dilapidated and mostly unusable. Aside from the original project that the powers that be in the town hall determined were the best suited to revamp the property (and we see how well that worked out), It doesn’t sound to me like too many people were lining up for the opportunity to attempt to renovate the school. Now the Mahidas are ready and willing to invest a staggering amount of money into the property, and subsequently into the town, and we’re going to fight it? Stop standing in the way of progress. Or maybe we should study it.. and then study the study.. Another thing GB is famous for.

  10. Susan Pettee says:

    This doesn’t look like historic preservation at all. The proposed building is an insult to the town, devoid of architectural merit, a cheap-looking equivalent to all the chain hotels at turnpike exits all over the country. The developers got the property for a low price based on its condition and the fact that it was an historic property to be refurbished and developed, not a teardown. Sounds like bait and switch to me.

  11. GMHeller says:

    This may not be politically correct to state in Great Barrington, but It’s looking like the Iredale Cosmetics rose is shedding some of its bloom. Iredale’s top management knows quite well the terms upon which the firm purchased the Searles-Bryant complex (and at firesale prices as a direct result of those terms).
    To now offer to resell a portion of that original complex “contingent upon permits being issued by the town” (Bellow’s words), and to encourage conditions in those permits which abrogate critical aspects of the original deal made with the Town, is disingenuous at best.
    Are these the actions of a responsible corporate parent?

    1. Mark says:

      I shall not stand by you for fear of being struck by lightening ⚡️

  12. Maria Nation says:

    Thanks Berkshire Edge for, once again, being the journal that actually covers the news in South County. The letter writers have brought up many important points that were not covered in the original piece and I hope the Edge does an in-depth follow-up story to get these facts straight before innuendo takes over. For instance: What were the terms of the Iredale corporation’s purchase of the Searles-Bryant complex vis a vis maintaining the historical nature? If, indeed, it was predicated upon maintaining the historical nature of the structures then how can tearing down the building be in compliance? “Recycling a couple of blackboards” seems to be a mockery of the concept of historical preservation. I think a quote from Jane Iredale is very important. She is a generous friend to the Berkshires and it seems out of character for her to be party to something that seems underhanded, as is suggested by some of the letter writers. It would also be useful to revisit that Town Meeting of 2007 referenced by GMHeller where the citizens voted on this development. What, precisely, did they vote on? And what influence DOES the Historical Commission have? Chairman Ivory states in the article that the Historical Commission can’t endorse this destruction of one of our historic buildings. And there is a bylaw that limits the number of rooms allowed in town. Do these things not carry any weight? On what grounds do the Mahidas plan to base their request for exemption? I hope there are more articles that clarify these things.

  13. GMHeller says:

    Book: 02003, Page: 304
    Town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts
    OFFICE OF THE TOWN CLERK
    ANNUAL TOWN MEETING May 14, 2007

    ARTICLE 17:
    To see if the Town will vote to transfer from the Board of Selectmen the custody and control of all or a portion of the Searles/Bryant Complex (located on Bridge Street and School Street and more particularly identified as Assessors’ Map Number 19, Lot 139) to the Board of Selectmen for purposes of sale, and authorize the Board of Selectmen to sell all or a portion of the property, on terms acceptable to the Board of Selectmen, and to authorize the Board of Selectmen to execute all documents and take all actions necessary to complete such sale, or to take any other action relative thereto.

    ARTICLE 17: On a motion by Margaret Beckwith seconded by Tony Blair voted that the Town transfer from the Board of Selectmen the custody and control of all of the Searles/Bryant Complex (located on Bridge Street and School Street and more particularly identified as Assessors’ Map Number 19, Lot 139) to the Board of Selectmen for purposes of sale, transfer, or other disposition, and authorize the Board of Selectmen to complete the sale, transfer, or other disposition of all or a portion of the property, on terms acceptable to the Board of Selectmen, and to authorize the Board of Selectmen to execute all documents and take all actions necessary to complete such sale, transfer or other disposition.

    A motion was made by Anthony Dapolito seconded by Karen Smith to amend the motion to include the following:

    At least one member of the Finance Committee shall be (present at) invited to all meetings between potential buyers and the Selectmen or a sub committee of the Selectmen established to complete the sale, transfer or other disposition of all or a portion of the property. All correspondence, memos, contracts, or other documents pertaining to such sale shall be made available to the Finance Committee on a timely basis and in no event latter then (sic) such time as made available to the Selectmen. In addition, at least one member of the Finance Committee shall be (present at) invited to that portion of any closed Board session called to discuss the aforementioned sale.
    Mr. Blair requested that the word ‘present at’ in lines one and six be changed to ‘invited to’ so that id (sic) there is nomember available it will not prohibit meetings from occurring. Mr. Dapolito agreed. The following people spoke on this amendment: Mary Elizabeth Merritt and Craig Okerstrom-Lang.

    AMENDMENT VOTED AT 9:12 P.M.

    The following people spoke on the amended motion: Douglas Stephenson, Peter Fish, Rachel Fletcher and Tony Blair. Mr. McCormick called for a vote on the amended article.

    DECLARED 2/3 VOTE AT 9:15 P.M.

    A TRUE COPY ATTEST: MARY Y. RYAN, TOWN CLERK
    ATTEST: BERKSHIRE SOUTH REGISTER: WANDA M. BECKWITH

    1. GMHeller says:

      CORRECTION: A TRUE COPY ATTEST: MARIE Y. RYAN, TOWN CLERK

  14. Myrna Sossner says:

    what can I say? As a 1949 graduate who moved away a couple of years later, I have not recent connections to Gt. B but this tears at my heart. I can only hope … wish … that stronger minds will prevail and not do this. But wisdom and experience tell a different story.

  15. GMHeller says:

    Reply to Jim Johnson,
    Aren’t the owners of a property responsible for upkeep and maintenance?
    In this case, a portion of the Searles/Bryant Complex is in serious disrepair, and is, according to Bellow’s article, “attracting vandals and drug users”.
    At the very least isn’t it the basic responsibility of owners Iredale Cosmetics and Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire (CDC owns 10%) to secure the complex’s vacant structures from vandals while undertaking sufficient maintenance on the property to prevent further deterioration?
    It’s not as though Iredale and CDC are absentee landlords: Iredale’s newly-renovated, beautifully-preserved 20,000 square foot world headquarters, the former William Cullen Bryant Elementary School, are part of the Complex, not 100 feet away from Searles.
    10% partner CDC is a block away on Bridge Street.
    Sounds as though both Iredale and CDC need to relearn Landlord 101, the basic responsibilities of a landlord to maintain and keep secure a property. (As for the invasion of vandals and drug users, you mean to say Iredale and CDC cannot afford to hire locally a guard or security company to patrol the premises?)
    Now that Iredale has its brand-new headquarters building less than 100 feet away, should Iredale be able to argue for changing terms of the original deal struck with the Town?
    If this were PCB-drenching General Electric Company or methane gas pipe-toting Kinder Morgan, Inc. rather than Vogue Magazine-touted Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, Ltd. and ‘not-for-profit’ Community Development Corporation would you be so willing to let these two corporate entities off the hook?

    Linked here are two Edge articles from the not-too-distant past that shed light on the ownership of Searles/Bryant Complex:
    SEE: https://theberkshire.wpengine.com/iredale-sell-searles-complex-creating-new-commercial-district/
    SEE: https://theberkshire.wpengine.com/heralded-riverschool-redevelopment-searles-school-now-default/

    1. Jim Johnson says:

      Regardless of who is making the investment, its an investment into OUR town… The one we are being “taxed out of”. If the plan helps to prevent a tax increase, creates jobs, and improve the overall aesthetics of our town, then I would stand behind it. We’re not talking about building a big box store (gasp!) or some other undesirable business, but a hotel which will only bring more people to our town. We may not like the city people that “take over” GB, but at the end of the day, they pay the bills.

      1. Patrick Fennell says:

        Rather comical that years ago the Searles and Bryant buildings were is such bad shape the BHRSD had to build two NEW schools. Now the same falling apart building is a historical landmark that needs to remain standing in spite of all of it problems. As long as they don’t ask for CPA money, which in GB usually goes to millionaires, let them do what they want and good luck to them. If they are looking for a painter I may know someone.

  16. Shawn says:

    I hope their donation to the Riverwalk will be large enough (or perhaps be a series of donations) that allows the walk to extend to the other side of Bridge St.

  17. BILL says:

    I say Mahida’s plans to revitalize the Searles School and build the new Berkshire Hotel are wonderful. This is exactly what the town needs! This will compliment the great Bryant School renovation by the Iredale’s. Some expressed concern about an upscale hotel? Who do you think is paying the bills around here? Lets move on from the eye sore the exists now and get on with it finally.

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