April 21, 2024

Heal Me Healthy

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Great Barrington developer buys BCC building on Main Street for health and wellness center | Southern Berkshires

3 min read

Berkshire Community College South County (copy)

Berkshire Community College’s South County Center on Main Street in Great Barrington, after it had closed last year. The college sold the building in December to Alander Group, which plans to turn it into a health and wellness center. 

GREAT BARRINGTON — A town-based developer has purchased the Main Street building that housed the Berkshire Community College satellite campus and plans to redevelop it into a community health and wellness center.

The $5.25 million project by Alander Group, which also will restore the historic structure at 343 Main St., is slated for completion in June 2023, according to Alander’s application for $250,000 of the town’s Community Preservation Act funds.

Rendering of 343 Main St. facade

An illustration depicts the restored future facade of 343 Main St., in Alander Group’s application to the town. 

The CPA approved the application last week, as well as $1.2 million for other projects. Town voters will have to approve all the funding at annual town meeting this year.

BCC will remain at the site with its Adult Learning Program only; in-person classes for students of all ages will be held at its Pittsfield campus, and online classes are continuing. Community Health Programs Family Dental Care will stay, and those who have signed non-binding letters of intent to lease space there include Berkshire Health Systems’ Berkshire Community Pharmacy, Volunteers in Medicine and Sustainable Food Lab Berkshires, a nonprofit that works to develop and improve local food systems.

Rendering of 343 Main St. facade

A visual from Alander Group’s plans to renovate 343 Main St.

BCC Foundation in December sold the 22,000-square-foot site to Alander for $1.45 million. Interest from Alander appears to have helped spark an intent to sell. Profit from the sale would help the school continue to fuel an average of around $350,000 in annual scholarships, as well as other support for students, BCC Foundation President Gene Dellea said last year.

Before the pandemic, 245 of the college’s 2,496 students attended the satellite campus.

BCC might sell its Great Barrington satellite. College officials say school still committed to South County.

Alander’s principal is Ian Rasch, an experienced developer in the Berkshires and Brooklyn, N.Y. He also co-founded Framework Properties with Sam Nickerson, and the pair renovated 47 Railroad St. downtown, creating 13 condominiums and several retail spaces.

Ian Rasch photo

Alander Group developer Ian Rasch.

The Main Street building is special, according to the Great Barrington Historical Commission. In 1923 the Whalen & Kastner Garage operated there as a car dealership for more than 50 years, and spurred auto tourism in the Berkshires in the 1920s and 1930s, according to a letter of support from commission Chairman, Malcolm Fick.

Local architect Joseph McArthur Vance handled the building’s redesign. His other work includes the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre, the First Church of Christ, Scientist and Bascom Lodge on Mount Greylock.

The building abuts the site of a contaminated former BP gas station, which is under monitoring by the state. The town is working to possess the site through foreclosure, finish the cleanup and sell it.