Amherst Media HQ decision getting down to details

  • Scott Merzbach—

Staff Writer
Published: 12/31/2019 2:46:50 PM
Modified: 12/31/2019 2:46:33 PM

AMHERST — Amherst Media will begin the new year not yet knowing whether building a new headquarters on Main Street property it owns will be possible, despite numerous hearings on the project in 2019.

But William Gillen, owner of Gillen Collaborative Architects, said in an email Tuesday that with approvals for the location of the building, as well as its size and shape, from the Local Historic District Commission in early December, he is confident that major details, including the roof, siding and windows and doors, will be approved, with possible groundbreaking on the $1.3 million building in the spring.

With approval of these architectural features, “we will be able to prepare construction documents and associated engineering for a building permit application,” Gillen said.

The commission meets at 4 p.m. Monday at Room 101 at the Bangs Community Center, where its members could decide on issuing a certificate of appropriateness for the latest designs for the 1½-story building.

The certificate of appropriateness is needed before the project, featuring sloped roofs, covered porches and clapboard siding to make it better fit with the residential neighborhood that surrounds it, can go to the Planning Board for site plan review.

There have already been five meetings on the latest iteration of the building plan, with the first Aug. 15 and the most recent Dec. 2. Before last summer, a barn-like production facility and technology center was contemplated to replace Amherst Media’s longtime home on College Street, a building owned by Eversource.

Site work on the .56 acres on Main Street will include walkways, a parking lot and lighting, signs, retaining walls, outdoor equipment and possibly new drainage infrastructure.

Historic District Commission members continue to get feedback from residents concerned about the new building overwhelming neighboring homes and a historic greenscape in front of the Henry Hills House.

Commission member Bruce Coldham said at the December meeting that he expects the commission to set a series of conditions to accompany the certificate of appropriateness, if it is issued.

Fellow member Maurianne Adams said she is looking for real detail on the window treatments at the proposed building and remains concerned that the facade facing Main Street is appropriate.

Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Taub said the commission won’t ignore how the building looks as viewed from Triangle Street. She observed that part of the building would typically be screened by a fence if it were a home.

Taub said she hopes that Gillen, who has presented models and artist conceptions of the building, can provide a photograph-like rendering of the new building, observing that the only new building for which the commission has issued a certificate of appropriateness, on Pease Place, had this type of realistic depiction brought forward.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettebnet.com.


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