iBerkshires.com  reports a Queens, N.Y., artist is envisioning a flexible live/work space in the town's densest commercial corner.
Ivan Stojakovic's plans are still in the very preliminary stages and will depend on whether he can get a variance to allow residential use in an industrial zone.
He floated the idea to the Planning Board on Wednesday to see if there would be any significant pushback from the town before venturing to purchase 161 River Road.
The building in question is located in the rear of the mill complex that once housed the Strong-Hewat woolen company. A number of businesses have been located in the facility that is made up of multiple buildings with different owners. Cascade Paper Co. owns the large building in the front and R.I. Baker several structures, some of more recent vintage.
Stojakovic is eyeing a structure facing the North Branch in the rear consisting of a three-story building and a one-story section. It is currently occupied by M&G metal fabricating, aka Berkshire Metal Spinning, but the building is listed for sale with Stone House Properties.
The location doesn't have the walkability of urban loft structures but he likes the proximity to the river and the surrounding nature. His artist statement says his work "explores artificial environments and the decline of wild natural habitats."
His vision would require not only the investment in the structure but guaranteeing a right of way through to the property and the purchase of a rectangular lot along the one-story structure for parking and a small piece along the riverbank for residents to be able walk or sit in nature and install sculpture. He said he has had some positive discussions with R.I. Baker owner Thomas Pelczynski.
The board, which did not have a quorum, could not provide any guidance but Scott thought the town would have to "dust off" the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance. She and Planner David Robert seemed generally supportive of the idea if Stojakovic was able to make the structure safe and up to code.
She suggested that Stojakovic would get more direction once a full-time town administrator is in place. The Select Board is expected to make a decision this month on one of two candidates recommended by the search committee. Their names have not been made public yet.

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