Craig’s Doors shelter in Amherst to move guests into Hadley hotel

Staff Writer
Published: 6/13/2023 10:09:55 AM

AMHERST — A permanent emergency shelter remains a long-term vision for the former VFW site on Main Street in Amherst, but in the short term, some guests served by Craig’s Doors: A Home Association will relocate this summer to rooms in a vacant Hadley hotel that has been eyed for affordable housing.

Craig’s Doors will soon move people from rooms at the University Motor Lodge in Amherst to the first floor at the former EconoLodge hotel at 329 Russell St., the Hadley hotel that Valley Community Development owns and has planned to convert to 51 apartments for up to 63 low- and moderate-income individuals.

That project has been delayed following the Hadley Zoning Board of Appeals voting down a comprehensive permit under the state’s Chapter 40B law.

“The building is going to afford such a dramatic increase in the quality of life for our guests,” said Craig’s Doors Executive Director Tim McCarthy, observing it is closer for those who go to appointments in Northampton and rely on public transportation.

Valley CDC Executive Director Alexis Breiteneicher said the hotel can be used in such a way on a temporary basis, with 24 hours a day, seven days a week staffing on-site, similar to how it was operated during the pandemic out of the same space. It’s a sensible use of the site, she said, after being used during the fall 2022 semester to house University of Massachusetts transfer students.

Valley CDC purchased the three-story, 29,230-square-foot hotel from Hampshire Hospitality Group for $4.1 million using Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. funding.

“It has been heartbreaking holding a vacant hotel when there are so many people in need of a roof over their head,” Breiteneicher said.

As far as the future of the project, Breiteneicher said Valley CDC has filed an appeal with the state’s Housing Appeals Committee, having one hearing this month, and another hearing is in early July.

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