What's New in The Mill District
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In the news
Atkins satellite in North Amherst will anchor the new Mill District
By Diane Lederman The Republican
June 2, 2014 — AMHERST - It was once a barn for Sarah Cowls Jones' cows before becoming storage for lumber and home for renters in what is called the Cow Palace, said Cinda H. Jones.
But in August of 2015, the more than 100-year-old barn will become the home of a 4,200 square-foot Atkins Farms Market satellite store.Jones and Pauline Lannon of Atkins inked a rental agreement Friday that brings the market to North Amherst after years of wooing.For Jones, the agreement is a huge part of the Mill District she is working to create on the 12 acres of land on Cowls Road. Calling it "The Valley's Eats, Arts, and Entertainment Destination," Atkins fits perfectly.
Atkins "is the epitome of what we’re creating at The Mill," Jones said. "Grocery shopping is something you have to do. When you go to Atkins, it's a destination, an experience. "It bookends our retail store," she said of Cowls Building Supply. ” She knows Atkins will draw other tenants. She is talking to two restaurants to open in the soon to open Trolley barn building. She envisions the district "will be a dynamic destination district."
About three years ago, Atkins officials were considering opening a second market in the former Cowls sawmill building but decided against it because they were in involved in a number of projects at their South Amherst store. This past fall building Jones launched a petition drive trying to convince Lannon that people wanted the market there.
"We have heard from hundreds of commuters and residents who live north of Amherst, who've strongly encouraged us to bring them fine food shopping that's convenient to where they live, commute, and recreate," Lannon said in a press release. Jones said more than 350 signed it.
Now Jones with Atkins in the Cow Barn, is hoping to see the 14,400-square-foot sawmill developed into a multigenerational entertainment space that might feature a pub, bowling alley, a restaurant, or spa.
There are two houses on the lane that she would love see become the home for small businesses as well as a 4,000 square-foot onion barn developed. She believes the town needs a place like this to provide a venue for all kinds of entertainment.
As for the Atkins renovation, she said they have to meet with the engineer and architect to figure what town permits they have to apply for and hope to begin renovations soon.
"Cinda Jones gave us a deal we couldn't refuse," Lannon said Monday. Plus she said with the low ceiling, the building suited their needs much more so than the sawmill.
She said with the North Amherst market about 20 percent of the size of the South Amherst store, "it's difficult to know what to bring up."
But she said it the market will offer deli products, coffee, pastries, pies and doughnuts, fresh meat, specialty items and groceries. Produce will be a staple and people will be able to stop in for lunch or to pick up dinner.
She said she's excited about it. "We've been working on it for so long." The community seems to be excited. When the UPS delivery truck pulled up outside Jones' office Monday morning, the driver screamed out his congratulations on the Atkins news.