East Heaven ‘rising from the ashes,’ likely moving to Easthampton

  • Easthampton Municipal Building, 50 Payson Avenue GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • An Easthampton firefighter douses smoldering rafters on the top story of East Heaven Hot Tubs in Northampton on June 7, 2021. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 9/1/2022 7:57:05 PM
Modified: 9/1/2022 7:53:27 PM

EASTHAMPTON — If all goes according to plan, the showroom and office space of a former city car dealership off Route 10 could be transformed into the new digs of longtime Northampton hot tub and spa facility East Heaven.

The Easthampton Planning Board this week approved a special permit from East Heaven for the renovation of the building at 150 Northampton St., as well as the redevelopment of the site.

East Heaven owners Robin and Ken Shapiro have been looking for a new space for their business over the last year after a fire in June 2021 damaged its Northampton location at 33 West St. near Smith College.

Moving the business out of the building so it could be repaired wasn’t economically viable, Ken Shapiro said. The 41-year-old business had also outgrown the space, he said.

“It made more sense to look for a space that’s larger,” he said.

After looking at more than 30 sites, the Ashfield couple settled on the Northampton Street spot where Hampshire Auto And Truck Sales used to be located. The site was most recently a carpet and flooring store.

Another local business owner, Nickolis Dulude of the Tasty Top ice cream shop, who had previously sought a special permit for the site, will not be operating there, Assistant City Planner Eli Bloch said.

The Shapiros said once the property is redeveloped, East Heaven will be able to offer private hot tub rentals, massage therapy and healing bodywork services. Other services the couple are considering offering at the site include saunas, hyperbaric chambers, and acupuncture and acutonics, which is a system of healing using the vibrations of precision-calibrated tuning forks.

Jeff Squire of Northampton-based Berkshire Design Group submitted a 21-page packet of plans and a narrative to accompany the Shapiros’ special permit application. Squire said at the Tuesday Planning Board meeting that the plans call for two small additions along the front of the building and in the northwest corner. A second story is also proposed that will house several of the outdoor tub rooms and include an open roof to allow views to the sky above.

The first floor will include the main lobby and waiting room, massage rooms, a laundry room, a utility/mechanical room and  storage space, as well as lockers and a staff room, he wrote.

Besides the existing building, the parking lot would be upgraded to provide 45 parking spaces and include more green space than currently exists.

 At the meeting, Planning Board members inquired about potential water use at the facility.

Ken Shapiro estimated that between the laundry service, showers and hot tubs, East Heaven would use somewhere under 2,000 gallons of water each day. Each tub uses an estimated 500 gallons of water.

He also estimated that at capacity, there would be approximately 10 massage clients, 10 massage therapists, 30 hot tub clients and four service employees on the property at once.

In approving the project, the board included several conditions, including that the business comply with the city’s standards for signs, that the building commissioner to sign off on state and local stormwater protocols, and that the business come before the board should the floor plans, layouts or service offerings change.

The couple received a variance and special permit approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals on Aug. 24.

“Everyone has been very welcome, supportive, professional and encouraging of this dream we have … We’ve never gotten this far in the process,” Robin Shapiro said. “We’re really excited and trying to make it happen, but it isn’t done just yet.”

If all goes according to plan, the couple is planning to purchase the property, which is owned by Fred M. Fedor.

“We’re really trying to rise from the ashes,” Ken Shapiro said. “We hope to have everything polished off in the next six weeks.”

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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