North Adams, December 1, 2020 – The North Adams Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the City of North Adams and the NAMAzing Initiative, is excited to announce that they are the recipient of a $25,000 Winter Placemaking grant through Bench Consulting’s “Winter Places” program with funding support from the Barr Foundation.


This grant, being administered through the Chamber, will include a number of winter season installations in Downtown North Adams to help create improved winter aesthetics, drive downtown foot traffic, and create social distance appropriate engagement opportunities throughout the downtown corridor. With the installation of potted evergreen trees, solar powered cafe style lighting, a custom fire pit with weekend programming, and a series of “window shops,” this initiative brings together a number of best practices gleaned from other communities to help with winter commerce and downtown experiential offerings during the COVID pandemic.


Championing the project, the Chamber is working hand in hand with City leadership and community partners to ensure a quick, high impact, and well marketed implementation. Glenn Maloney of the North Adams Chamber notes “During these challenging times it is more important than ever to remember our local small business community.  We have a unique opportunity to focus on small and local and to stay close to home. Let’s all do our best this winter to keep our friends and families in our thoughts. Shop from those neighbors and friends when you can, and most of all remember to take care of each other.”


With added programming to be announced over the course of the winter, this project also links multiple downtown corridors, and includes engagement with other partners like the Berkshire Scenic Rail, whose terminus is located several hundred yards off of Main Street. Ben Lamb of the NAMAzing Initiative noted “It is fantastic to be able to inject these new seasonal components and added connectivity to the downtown, especially this year, as we seek to inspire continued love for our fantastic city, and to help drive conscientious continuity of commerce during such a challenging period” he added “a great aspect of this effort is it is adding programmable infrastructure so that businesses and community groups have new assets to leverage for winter activity in downtown.”


This effort wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Barr Foundation and Bench Consulting, who engaged the NAMAzing Initiative and the City initially due to their prior work with the community. Mayor Tom Bernard notes “This Winter Places grant is especially welcome at a time when many downtown businesses are struggling and residents are looking for safe ways to gather, connect, and engage with this community that we all love. I’m grateful to the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and the NAMAzing Initiative for their commitment to the city. I also appreciate the insight of the Barr Foundation and Bench Consulting in recognizing the unique and welcoming nature of our central business district, and embracing this vision of socially distanced social connection.”


Over the coming days and weeks the partners will begin installing the various components funded through the grant, with the goal of having everything activated before the Christmas Holiday, lasting until at least March. Hopefully, through assessment and review of the impact of the project, future efforts of this type can continue to be integrated into outdoor placemaking downtown.

  • The Evergreen Way – seasonal installation of potted evergreen trees along Main Street and the directly adjacent commercial corridors to create a feeling of seasonal greenery. Business owners and operators will be invited to decorate the trees placed in front of their place of business, and community organizations can be invited to decorate others along the corridors.
  • Window “Shops” – The NAMAzing Initiative, building owners on Main Street with vacant storefronts and the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, will implement a “Window Shopping” experience. This will be composed of small port-hole style designs that showcase items sold by businesses in North Adams without a physical store front on Main Street. With the use of QR codes, domain names, and phone numbers, those who wish to purchase the items they see can then contact the retailer for more information or to purchase.
  • The Hot Spot – Creating a weekend warming station, this enclosed firepit with neighboring seating will offer up an attraction point and place to warm your hands and spirits.
    • Starting Saturday, March 6 from 2-7
    • Location: Outside of the First Congregational Church at the top of Main Street.
  • Aesthetic Lighting – Stringing the entirety of Main Street’s north side, and Marshall, Holden, and Eagle Streets with café style string lights will create an ambiance and feeling of life in the dark months of winter.
    • Active
  • Train Connectivity – Working with the Berkshire Scenic Railway, new brand-aligned signage at the corner of American Legion Drive and Main Street, as well as Ashland Street and Main Street, will direct people to the North Adams terminus/terminal of the Berkshire Scenic Railway behind the Brien Center. Additional rides are in the works for February 2021 in partnership with the Scenic Railroad.
    • coming soon