|By G. Michael Dobbs
The renovated wing at Ames Privilege will have 40 new apartments when the project is completed.
Reminder publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – The rebirth of one wing of the former Ames factory building in downtown has started after years of planning and finding the funding to complete the job.
Andrew Burnes, president of HallKeen Management, the owners of the Ames Privilege complex, said at the groundbreaking on Aug. 22, “It’s been a long, long tortuous process to get to where we are today.”
As Burnes and others spoke, workers were in the building carrying on the job of converting the structure into 40 new apartments. The work includes gutting the structure structural restoration, window replacement and extensive weatherization. Burnes believes the new apartments should be ready to rent by next spring.
In addition to the new apartments, HallKeen is also renovated the present 94 rented units and installing new energy efficient windows, insulation improvements, and aesthetic improvements.
Burnes explained the original owners of the complex in 1987 realized that bacteria living in the wooden beams caused by a leaking roof had caused timber rot which made one wing of the former sword factory and foundry uninhabitable. The decision as made at the time to abandoned any plans for apartments there.
HallKeen bought the property in 1999 and Burnes said that in 2000 “we looked at it [the wing] and saw an opportunity.”
The difficulty was raising the financing to undertake the approximately $17 million project, Burnes explained. He credited Mayor Michael Bissonnette and his housing staff in helping to find the funding from sources such as MassHousing.
Bissonnette said that in today’s funding climate, “Only the most worthy [projects] in execution and function are going to get funded.”
Noting the various infrastructure improvements in the downtown area, Bissonnette added the renovations at Ames Privilege are “the frosting on the cake.”
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