North Amherst development’s first tenants set for August move-in

  • A rendering of the $40 million North Square at the Mill District project in North Amherst. SUBMITTED IMAGE.

Staff Writer
Published: 4/13/2019 12:06:24 AM

AMHERST — On Aug. 1, the first residents will begin moving into one of three mixed-use buildings under construction that are reshaping North Amherst village center.

Darcy Jameson, senior development director for Beacon Communities Development, said this week that Building B will have the first of 130 apartments ready for occupancy at the $47.5 million mixed-use development known as North Square at the Mill District.

The project, which broke ground last June on Cowls Road on the site of the former W.D. Cowls, Inc. sawmill and lumber yard, includes three buildings being built across from the Jake’s at the Mill restaurant and The Lift salon, both in the Trolley Barn building, and adjacent to the Atkins Farms Country Market north location.

Jameson said Beacon is currently marketing the residential units, with a trailer on site where people can get information about the apartments, including an idea of what the kitchens and bathrooms will look like. By early June, people will be able to tour model and amenity spaces in the three-story building, she said.

On the ground level, in 4,000 square feet not set aside for apartments and common areas, will be a general store, a cafe and an art gallery, likely opening a month or two after the first tenants move in, said W.D. Cowls President Cinda Jones.

Jones is overseeing the development of 22,500 square feet of commercial space at North Square.

Jones said her placemaking team, Hannah Rechtschaffen and Jennifer Gannett, are continuing to seek businesses interested in the location, with one-third of the space reserved for restaurants, one third for retail and one third for services. The goal, she added, is to attract young professionals, senior citizens and long-time residents to the Mill District.

The general store will be named after her grandfather, Walter Jones, and will be managed by her brother, Evan Jones, who also runs Cowls Building Supply. It will have a revolving supply of household items, home goods and pet supplies, as well as upcycled items.

An operator is being sought for the cafe, which will complement the general store. “The food component makes it a gathering space and a community center,” Jones said.

Rechtschaffen will be in charge of Hannah’s Gallery, which Jones said is named after both her current employee and Hannah Cowls, an ancestor who is considered the first member of the W.D. Cowls family to move to the region, settling in Hatfield around 1660.

Artists will be able to rent space in the gallery to have their works sold to customers at the general store.

Jones said the unique features of the general store are still being planned, but elements will include an antique cash register used in the 19th century, an outdoor water fountain that can be used by both dogs and people, and a 1960s-era mechanical coin-operated toy horse. That kiddie ride, which Jones dubs the “Zayre horse” after the defunct Hadley department store that had similar rides at its entrance, was found at the Brimfield antique show.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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