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Thornewood Inn project completed, now open to affordable housing units

"I think the situation here in Great Barrington is very unique," CDCSB Board member McCaela Donovan told The Berkshire Edge. "With this Thornewood Inn project, people living here can have an incredible experience and feel that this is a wonderful fit for what they need in this current moment.”

Great Barrington — The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire (CDCSB) has completed its Thornewood Inn affordable housing, and it is now open for tenants. The organization purchased the inn, which is a Dutch Colonial home built in 1919, back in December.

In 1983, couple David and Terry Thorne purchased the building and slowly turned it into an inn. The inn opened in 1984 with four guest units, but has grown over time to 14 units. In December, after 39 years of operating the inn, the Thornes announced that they would sell the property to CDCSB for $1.365 million.

To purchase the property, CDCSB received a $100,000 challenge grant from an anonymous source, with the donor promising to match the donations from $1 to $1,000. The organization also announced that the Greylock Federal Credit Union committed to providing mortgage financing for the purchase of the building.

Since the purchase of the inn, the organization has worked to clean up the inside of the building and prepare it for affordable housing.

CDCSB Board member McCaela Donovan told The Berkshire Edge that the inn had a “soft opening” in June.

According to CDCSB’s website, the inn has 14 furnished units, each suitable for one to two adults. Fees for each unit start at $1,000 a month and include all utilities and internet. The inn itself will have a shared kitchen, but according to the website, the kitchen is still in the process of being renovated.

“I think everyone in this country is trying to figure out affordable housing solutions,”
Donovan told The Berkshire Edge. “Everyone is even trying to figure out the vernacular of ‘affordable housing.’ What do you call it? What does it mean? I think the situation here in Great Barrington is very unique. With this Thornewood Inn project, people living here can have an incredible experience and feel that this is a wonderful fit for what they need in this current moment.”

The living room area for CDCSB’s Thornewood Inn project. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
The dining room in the Thornewood Inn. The building’s common kitchen is still undergoing renovations. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

“We’re hoping that will work out, and then we’re hoping to get a couple more of those [employers] as well,” Donovan said. “We’ve reached out to a lot of employers in the Berkshire County area, including large organizations and healthcare organizations. The hope is that if anyone who has a large business or small business in Great Barrington and has employees that they want to provide space for, the hope is they’ll get in touch with us.”

While some residents have applauded the Thornewood Inn’s conversion into affordable housing, there have been other residents, particularly vocal on social media, who have been critical of affordable housing projects in Berkshire County. “There’s a lot of that ‘not in my backyard’ vibe everywhere,” Donovan said. “I think we live in interesting times and this is a complicated, heated, nuanced issue that spans a lot of different challenges and generations. To be honest with you, I understand why people get heated about it. But I also try to come at it from an empathetic viewpoint about why it’s important to educate people about providing opportunities for people to live here. We have people who live in Berkshire County who are great members of the community. But some of them have financial challenges, either because they have a ton of student loans, or because they did not come from a lot. But they are all working very hard. No matter what you tell them, people are going to be where they are when it comes to certain issues. All you can try to do is reach them as a human being and get them to be involved enough to see why affordable housing is necessary in this community.”

For more information about the Thornewood Inn affordable housing project, visit CDCSB’s website.

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