Amherst Media building plans up for review

  • —Submitted Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 3/10/2019 6:59:10 PM

AMHERST — Amherst Media’s new production facility and technology center, proposed to be built at the intersection of Main and Gray streets, will be the subject of two municipal hearings this month.

On Monday at 4 p.m., the Local Historic District Commission will begin a review of whether to issue a certificate of appropriateness for the 4,080-square-foot, 32-foot-tall building. Then, March 20 at 7:05 p.m., the Planning Board will conduct a site plan review. Both will be held at Town Room at Town Hall.

“We’re very excited about the new drawings we’re providing to the historical district and the Planning Board,” said Executive Director Jim Lescault 

Lescault said Amherst Media has sought significant community input since it began searching for a new home in 2011. That came after Eversource notified Amherst Media that it wouldn’t be able to continue using the 246 College St. studio for the long term.

Though Amherst Media has received short-term lease extensions, and has not been evicted, Eversource was unwilling to sell the building to the nonprofit, Lescault said.

Amherst Media purchased the two Main Street lots, totaling 0.56 acres, for $340,000 in 2013, and Town Meeting rezoned the properties to neighborhood business to give the nonprofit more flexibility with the project.

A capital campaign is underway to raise the money to construct the $1.5 million building, which was designed by Great Country Timber Frames of Ellington, Connecticut.

How the hearings will play out is unknown. There is expected to be opposition from the owner of the historic Henry Hills House on Gray Street, which the two parcels were once part of.

Robert Speiser said in an email that his worry is that the building and its parking lot will negatively impact the look of the neighborhood, and that he has offered to purchase the lots from Amherst Media and turn over a portion of the green space for municipal use.

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

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