LENOX — The largest pending single real estate development in the heart of downtown business district — an estimated $20 million project — is on track to change hands at a $4 million offering price.
Nathan Winstanley, owner of the approved Windrose Place mixed-use residential and commercial plan on Main Street just north of Church and Franklin streets, has put the property on the market, complete with its town permits, after a year of conversations with prospective developers.
The combination of high-end condo units priced near $1 million, and several ground-floor business spaces on the 114 Main St. site won final approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals in January 2021. The proposal first surfaced in November 2019 before the Historic District Commission, which also signed off on the plan, as did the Conservation Commission.
A previous ZBA approval was followed by a lawsuit against the board and Nathan and Kathryn Winstanley, which was ultimately withdrawn by local architect Jim Harwood, who had been joined in the lawsuit for a time by two immediate neighbors of the property.
The zoning board first green-lit the site plan and special permit in January 2020, but had to revisit it and issue a final approval under an order from Berkshire Superior Court in response to the Harwood appeal.
The 3.26-acre site is being marketed by Rich Aldrich of Stone House Properties Commercial Division as the exclusive agent.
The offering document notes that “Windrose Place is a fully permitted and lovingly designed mixed-use addition to the historic fabric of the Village of Lenox. After a multi-year effort by a committed local team, the project has received all necessary permits and is now seeking investors to bring the project to fruition.”
The project includes 26 residences averaging 1,250 square feet each, described as “attractive for primary, retirement or seasonal buyers.” The retail availability on the corner of Main and Franklin streets will contain just under 3,000 square feet of leasable space.
The 1790 Colonel Elijah Northrup House, originally a tavern and inn, would be renovated as the development’s centerpiece to include seven of the condo residences. It served as Winstanley’s headquarters for his marketing business for 25 years.
As proposed and approved, three new buildings would be constructed — two multi-family structures (eight condos in one, nine in the other) and the mixed-use commercial site with ground-floor retail and two residences on the second floor. A covered walkway is planned to connect the Northrup House with one of the new buildings.
The Stone House Properties document points out that Nathan Winstanley “personally managed the approvals process with the Town and its stakeholders. He is now focused on formulating collaboratively the resources required to deliver the project, which is expected to have an all-in project cost in the $20 million range, including land, construction, and soft and financing costs.”
The projected development cost includes the $4 million asking price to purchase the property.
During a recent interview with The Eagle, Nathan Winstanley explained his reasons for seeking a property sale to an outside developer. The excerpts are lightly edited for length:
Q: Why did you decide to put the project on the market instead of developing it yourself with your architect brother (Michael Winstanley)?
A: I spent the last year getting cost estimates, construction estimates, a secondary design review to maximize the space and the light inside the units, trying pretty hard to put it together myself. I realized that the size of the project requires an expertise and financial resources that I really just don’t have. The most fruitful conversations I’ve had have been with developers. I thought I had an agreed-upon developer at the end of last year, but that fell through because of medical issues with one of the principals I was working with.
Q: How shovel-ready is the project once it’s acquired by a new developer?
A: We started the architecture, structural engineering for the buildings, and from the date we have a developer, we’re probably 12 to 15 weeks away from having construction documents. A lot of the people who are interested in residential units have contacted me, but until I have a developer in place, I can’t move forward on any of those fronts. It needs to be exposed to a larger audience of developers in New England. There’s a lot of interest, we just haven’t found the right combination of skill sets and financial backing that we need to make the project happen. I want to make sure it’s done right.
Q: Are you encouraged about the prospects for a deal?
A: I’m really optimistic. Pre-pandemic, the prospect of putting 26 residential units on the market in the village of Lenox seemed fraught with peril. There was a lot of doubt whether the town could absorb it. Now, I talk to people
every day about it, and we’re on the runway with this. The viability of these projects is based on the skill, experience and financial resources that a developer bring to it. I feel like everything’s coming together now.
Q: Will you be choosy about the developer who lands the property?
A: I’m determined to find someone who understands high-end residential property and can make this what I envisioned — a residential centerpiece for the village, a tremendous asset for the town. I care what happens there, I have a certain vision for the property. It’s important that the 1790 Northrup House will remain and that the streetscape remains ‘New England-y.’ A building like that is too easily discarded, it’s ingrained in the town’s history.