A developer is prepared to start a major renovation of a building on Main Street, another signal of a rebound in activity along the street after some properties stagnated as the recession wore on.
City Hall has approved the project, located at 692 Main St. A building permit was issued on Monday. Construction fencing has been posted. The building once operated as a sales center for Marriott. It has been vacant for some time, however.
The City Hall approval allows the developer to add two stories to the two-story building. It is not a historic building, making the permitting process for such a project less involved than it would have been had the property been protected by City Hall's tight rules regulating historic properties.
The building is part of the portfolio of Ken Abdalla, a newcomer to Main Street who acquired a series of properties along the street in the last few years.
Joe Wrona, the attorney who represents Abdalla, said the project at 692 Main St. will involve building commercial square footage and residential space. There will be approximately 3,000 square feet of commercial space on the Main Street level and in the basement, he said. The upstairs floors will have five residential units ranging in size from 800 square feet to 2,000 square feet, Wrona said.
"Ken Abdalla is a big believer in Main Street. Ken's view is shared by others," Wrona said.
He said Main Street must have an appropriate mix of commercial space and residential places. The thinking is if more people stay on Main Street during their vacations, they will spend time shopping, dining and enjoying the entertainment on the street.
"This particular building is a great example of that concept," Wrona said, noting the Main Street-level commercial space that is planned.
He said the developer wants to start demolishing the interior of the building before winter. The project is expected to be completed as early as next summer, Wrona said.
The building is strategically situated on Main Street as a link between the upper section of the street and lower Main Street. It does not sit at the Heber Avenue intersection that is traditionally seen as the divider, but it is close to that corner nonetheless. A fully operating building at the location could attract some people down Main Street who otherwise might not head past Heber Avenue as they stroll along the street.
"It's going to be important to bring this building back to life," Wrona said.
The work at 692 Main St. is more evidence that Main Street is emerging from a recession-era downturn that hampered development efforts for four-plus years. Some owners lost their properties in the downturn while others held off on new projects.
Abdalla's portfolio runs nearly the length of the street. He recently started a major renovation of the historic Imperial Hotel building at the southern end of Main Street. His team has also filed paperwork at City Hall to put up a townhouse building on a vacant lot at 205 Main St.
Other projects on or just off of Main Street not involving Abdalla include the renovation of the Claim Jumper building, the planned expansion of the Kimball Art Center and an idea to redevelop a piece of ground at 802 Park Ave., where a small historic building and a parking lot are located.