The Debut of 47 RR

More space opens up in Great Barrington



Photo by Ogden Gigli

The south Berkshire County town of Great Barrington has seen a good amount of change in recent years, as demonstrated by the renovation of Main Street in 2014 and 2015 and the arrival of at least a dozen new downtown businesses. This spring, a new project—entitled 47 RR—will add significantly to the town’s evolving landscape. 

Located at the top of Railroad Street, 47 RR creates up to five street-level storefront spaces and 13 apartments. The “new” building that has been emerging there over the past year is actually a new structure and three historic ones that housed, most recently, a number of now-defunct restaurants (including Martin’s, Fiori, Pearl’s, and Mario’s Tuscany Grill). This huge renovation, executed by Great Barrington’s Alander Construction, pieces the four buildings into a single one, totaling almost 20,000 square feet. 

The ambitious, seven-million-dollar project is the brainchild of Ian Rasch and Sam Nickerson, and the company they started together, Framework Properties. “What attracted us to the project was not only the historic buildings and location,” says Rasch, “but the chance to have a positive effect on Great Barrington’s living opportunities, pedestrian activity, historic preservation, and economic revitalization.”

Both men have local ties. Rasch grew up in neighboring Columbia County, N.Y., attended school in Great Barrington and lives in Great Barrington. After false starts in pre-med and music, he enrolled at the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate, eventually becoming director of development for Lenox-based Allegrone Companies, the Berkshire’s premier building and construction company. Nickerson lives in Housatonic, with family roots in the Berkshires going back over a century. His background is in investment and commercial real estate, and he is the founder of Ecos Properties, which acquires and develops distressed commercial property. He has an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. 

Nickerson and Rasch see the selection of first-floor merchants as key to the 47 RR project—and are seeking ones that will diversify the town’s shopping opportunities, and also appeal to the tenants of the new apartments above. 

Business spaces run from 700 square feet to 2,500 square feet, with monthly rental fees ranging from $2,500 to $6,000, depending on size and location.  The final number of retail tenants will depend upon whether tenants choose to combine more than one space. 

The 13 apartments also range in size and rental rate (from $1,800 to $3,000), ten of them with one bedroom and three with two bedrooms. They are all modern and high-ceilinged with abundant, oversized windows and state-of-the-art amenities. Residents will have access to an outdoor, third-floor roof deck that affords a dazzling panoramic view of Railroad Street. Not surprisingly, over 40 people were already on the waiting list for the apartments by early February. 

“Making four buildings into a cohesive whole,” says Nickerson, “with a consistent design and fitting into the architectural context around it was quite a challenge. Our team did a great job with that, and we are really pleased with the result, which is both new and modern and respectful of tradition at the same time.”

All of the apartments are Energy Star–certified and were built with sustainable building methods. “Some people ask us why we would go to the effort of building this way for a rental project,” says Nickerson. “The answer, besides it being the right thing to do for the environment, is that it is good business. A well-insulated building with lots of natural light and a healthy indoor environment is a place people want to stay, and that creates value.” In the renovation of the building, much of the material that was removed was donated to a charity rather than sent to a landfill.

The project also creates a new pedestrian walkway, the alleyway that connects the top end of Railroad Street to Castle Street, with storefront businesses running the length of the walkway. Rasch and Nickerson anticipate that it will have a significant effect on pedestrian-traffic flow and be especially beneficial to those businesses on Castle Street, including the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

But 47 RR represents more than just a series of new businesses and dwellings—it is designed to appeal to the kinds of people that Rasch and Nickerson see making up Great Barrington’s future. “Nationally,” says Nickerson, “more and more people want to live in walkable, downtown neighborhoods. This goes not only for big cities, but towns like Great Barrington. Currently, there are limited living opportunities in Great Barrington, but this project will make way for upwards of 30 new downtown residents.” The trend applies especially to millennials, but also to retirees who are migrating back to downtown centers for easier access to shopping, restaurants, cultural venues, recreational facilities, and healthcare options. 

Local businesses have been quick to recognize the purchasing power that the building’s tenants will bring. “Any downtown housing is a good thing,” says Ben Downing, co-owner of 20 Railroad Public House. “To do it in the modern, progressive stylings that Sam and Ian have chosen will definitely be a benefit to commerce and community.”

47 RR also will be the first mixed-use building in Great Barrington to offer fiber-optic cable service to all its tenants. Fiber-optic technology dramatically increases the performance of telecommunications and is seen as being critical to economic development and attracting professionals whose work depends on telecommuting. “It’s unlikely that we are going to attract businesses that employ a hundred or more people to the Berkshires,” says Nickerson. “However, we can attract individuals, small groups of people that are willing to relocate from urban centers for the quality of life that the Berkshires offers. But they can’t do it without the fiber infrastructure that allows them to stay connected.”

The old Great Barrington fire station, which has been vacant since the new fire station opened in 2008, is being rented by Rasch and Nickerson as a workshop and staging area for 47 RR’s construction. They hope to acquire the fire station and add it to the project, which would allow the pedestrian corridor to extend all the way to Castle Street. Negotiations related to their acquisition of that site are underway.

 

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Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
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Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
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We invite families to drop-in and enjoy interactive pop-up activity stations, gallery games, and art projects around the KMA.  Get inspired by Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Katonah Museum
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Calling all fans of Scottish food and Diana Galbaldon’s Outlander series. Don your tartan, make like Jamie’s clan motto and be ready! You’re invited to an amazing Outlander...

Cost: 100.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
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Friday, Jan. 25 Wilton Library Mini Golf Tourney for Adults, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. The kids had so much fun at last year’s Mini Golf fundraiser, that Wilton Library is holding one for adults only...

Cost: $50 and up

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
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Original members of the Billy Joel Band featuring Liberty DeVitto on drums, Richie Cannata on saxophone and Russell Javors on rhythm guitar. The band recorded and toured extensively with Billy Joel...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: (203) 438-5795
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Born from humble beginnings in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT The Alpaca Gnomes cut their teeth in the neighborhood bar scene by playing marathon shows filled with originals and a wide...

Cost: $15.00 - $20.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Jeanne Moore
Telephone: (203) 831-5004
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
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Are you a lifelong with a passion for sharing history? Find out about becoming a Museum Docent! Docents are trained volunteer educators who present guided tours and other education programs to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Bring the baby and enjoy a lively conversation inspired by the art on view. Enjoy light snacks while socializing with newly-made friends. Crying babies welcome and activities provided for older...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price with Museum admission: Free

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

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Winter Guided Hike @ Woodcock Nature Center Saturday January 26th, 10-11:30am, FREE ​ Join Mr. Sam for a hike where we'll investigate whats going on in nature in the winter season and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Woodcock Nature Center
Telephone: (203) 762-7280
Contact Name: Sam Nunes
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Saturday, Jan. 26 Mini Golf Family Day in the Stacks at Wilton Library, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wilton Library will hold its 2nd mini golf fundraising event. There will be food (each paid admission will...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
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  Touchon transforms verbal language into handsome geometric compilations, to reveal the beauty and musicality of language characterized by warmly colored shapes, interlocking irregular grids and...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
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Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

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Saturday, January 26th from 1:00 - 2:00 PM, Ages 4+ Attend for groovy crafts, snacks, games, and more in celebration of the Pete the Cat book series. This event is free and no registration is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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Hudson Chorale, the area’s largest mixed voice chorus, is poised to please.  The group will begin its 2019 season with two matinee concerts on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm and Sunday,...

Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

Where:
The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
Ossining, NY  10562
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Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
Contact Name: Anne Norum
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Join us for a very special evening of music from these four accomplished singer songwriters: David Ray, Mike Latini, Dave Goldenberg, George Mallas.  

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
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Join us for another incredible evening of music featuring four local singer songwriters performing original music! Doors open at 7pm in New Morning’s handicapped accessible Community Room on the...

Cost: Free

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
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