East Heaven ‘rising from the ashes’, likely moving to Easthampton

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EASTHAMPTON – If all goes according to plan, the showroom and offices of a former car dealership in the city near Route 10 could be transformed into new digs for the longtime Northampton East Heaven hot tub and spa .

Easthampton Planning Council this week approved a special permit from East Heaven for renovation of the building at 150 Northampton St., as well as redevelopment of the site.

East Heaven owners Robin and Ken Shapiro have been looking for new space for their business over the past year after a fire in June 2021 damaged its Northampton location at 33 West St. near Smith College .

Moving the business out of the building so it could be repaired was not economically viable, Ken Shapiro said. The 41-year-old company had also outgrown space, he said.

“It made more sense to look for a bigger space,” he said.

After visiting over 30 locations, the Ashfield couple settled in the Northampton Street location where Hampshire Auto And Truck Sales was located. The site was most recently a carpet and flooring store.

Another local business owner, Nickolis Dulude of ice cream shop Tasty Top, who had previously applied for a special permit for the site, will not operate there, deputy planner Eli Bloch said.

The Shapiros said that once the property is redeveloped, East Heaven will be able to offer private hot tub rentals, massage therapy and body treatments. Other services the couple plans to offer at the site include saunas, hyperbaric chambers, as well as acupuncture and acutonics, which is a healing system using the vibrations of precisely calibrated tuning forks.

Jeff Squire of the Northampton-based Berkshire Design Group submitted a 21-page package of plans and a narrative to accompany the Shapiros’ special permit application. Squire told Tuesday’s planning board meeting that plans call for two small additions along the front of the building and in the northwest corner. A second story is also proposed which will house several of the outdoor bathrooms and will include an open roof to allow views of the sky above.

The first floor will include the main lobby and waiting area, massage rooms, laundry room, laundry/mechanical room and storage space, as well as lockers and a staff room, he wrote.

In addition to the existing building, the car park would be upgraded to provide 45 parking spaces and include more green space than currently exists.

At the meeting, members of the Planning Board inquired about the potential use of water at the facility.

Ken Shapiro estimated that between laundry service, showers, and hot tubs, East Heaven would use somewhere less than 2,000 gallons of water each day. Each tub uses approximately 500 gallons of water.

He also estimated that at full capacity, there would be about 10 massage clients, 10 massage therapists, 30 spa clients and four service employees on the property at any one time.

In approving the project, the council included several conditions, including that the company comply with city standards for signage, that the building commissioner approve state and local stormwater protocols, and that the company present to the board if floor plans, layouts or service offerings change.

The couple received a special permit waiver and approval from the Zoning Appeal Board on August 24.

“Everyone has been so welcomed, supported, professional and encouraging about this dream that we have… We’ve never gotten this far in the process,” Robin Shapiro said. “We’re really excited and trying to make it happen, but it’s not done yet.”

If all goes as planned, the couple plans to purchase the property, which is owned by Fred M. Fedor.

“We’re really trying to rise from the ashes,” Ken Shapiro said. “We hope it will all be over within the next six weeks.”

Emily Thurlow can be contacted at [email protected]

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