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Friday, January 26, 2007

A new-fangled New England barn raising


If someday soon you drive past a 25,000 square foot barn on the south side of Berlin and say: "Oh, look! They took an old barn and turned it into a store," you've been had. And that's the idea.

The building -- which will be the largest commercial structure of its kind in town and the new corporate home of Pure Hockey, a specialty retailer with five new England locations -- is supposed to fool people into thinking it's been there for years.

According to the principals involved, the building plan is the result of an agreement between the town Planning Board, Pure Hockey owner William Craig and landowner Ronald Wheeler, who owns the farmland on which the store will sit.

Wheeler agreed to preserve more than 11 acres adjacent to the store in exchange for the right to construct the building. Town laws normally limit commercial buildings to 4,000 square feet.

Craig, who is expected to this week close on the purchase of 4.5 acres from Wheeler, said the store was designed to fit in with the character of the surrounding area.

"We wanted to preserve the integrity of the town," he said.

The store is scheduled to open by April 1, more than three years after Craig first planned on opening it, and will housed on the first floor with corporate offices on the top level. A temporary location on Donald J. Lynch Boulevard in Marlborough will close once the new store opens.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

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