Bucking the pandemic

MADELINE HUGHES/Staff photo Mark Yanowitz and Ken Feyl co-own the Andover-based firm LaGrasse Yanowitz & Feyl Architects, which they recently purchased from Joe LaGrasse earlier this year. 

The pandemic has been wreaking havoc on small businesses across the Merrimack Valley and the country, but a local architecture firm has been quietly planning and hiring people to help rebuild after the pandemic.

"One of the cool things for us as architects is that we understand what's going on and what's going to be coming in the future," said Mark Yanowitz, co-owner of LaGrasse Yanowitz & Feyl Architects. "There were challenges before COVID for brick and mortar stores as well as suburban offices, but with virtual conferences companies are re-evaluating how they do business."

With more business planning suburban satellite offices, and the growing Boston metro area, Yanowitz and his business partner Ken Feyl are excited to take the firm previously named JD LaGrasse and Associates, Inc. into the next generation of innovation.

They recently purchased the company from Joe LaGrasse, who will remain with their new company, they said.

Merrimack Valley development projects are still moving forward as people look to the "rebirth of activity" in 2021 with a COVID-19 vaccine on the way, Yanowitz said.

They are currently working on multiple multi-use developments that combine retail, restaurants and apartments across the region including their 136 Essex St. project in Lawrence and Bradstreet on Main in North Andover.

The firm is also working on multiple restaurant designs where outdoor seating and carryout play a larger role than they've seen before the pandemic, they said. However, inside the resturant they are still planning for maximizing capacity, they said, explaining that resturant owners would change the layout as needed if another health crisis occurred.

"They are looking for the future and not planning for the present," Feyl said. "They will deal with that in the interum with their operations when needed."

The two Andover architects are particularly excited about owning an architecture firm in the town they live in.

Both Yanowitz and Feyl moved to Andover because of family and landed jobs with Boston-based architecture firms in 2006 and 2008 respectively.

"It's fun when you get to work on projects within your own community because you get a lot of feedback from friends and other professionals," Yanowitze said.

They've already finishing projects such as the Cormier Youth Center feasibility study, Lillian Montalto Signature Properties' new building and Karma Restaurant.

Andover "felt comfortable as a good place to raise a family and there's lots of (architecture-related) opportunities because of growth and redevelopment," Yanowitz said.


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