October 10, 2012

Gerald Hotel deal in Fairfield to be completed by end of month

Project should give boost to downtown businesses, neighbors

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD -- Scheduling problems have delayed closing on a $6.5 million deal to buy and redevelop the Gerald Hotel but developers hope to sign papers by the end of the month.

click image to enlarge

Developers plan to convert the Gerald Hotel building at 177 Main St., in Fairfield, into apartments for the elderly.

Staff file photo

The historic downtown building at 177 Main St., which most recently housed a furniture store, will be turned into apartments for residents 55 and older.

Realtor Tom Munson, who is handling the sale, said that the deal couldn't be closed in early October because vacation schedules prevented all of the preliminary paperwork from being approved.

The delay has not slowed down preparations for renovations, which are slated to begin in November.

Munson expects five or six contractors to meet an Oct. 24 deadline to submit bids for the work.

Munson, who is also a town councilor, said he expects the renovation activity will give a boost to the businesses that serve food on Main Street.

"If you take a town of 6,500 people and put a $6.5 million project in it, it will help," he said. "I've been telling people to invest in Sonny's Pizza and the Kennebec Cafe. How many meals do you think construction workers can eat in a year?"

The project is partially financed by federal tax credits that support the preservation of historic buildings. Contractors will modernize the building and install kitchens and bathrooms for 28 one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units. The hotel was built in 1900 and last used as a hotel in 1937.

Munson said that the housing will have long-term benefits for the town that go beyond the renovation period.

"That means people coming and going," he said. "Anywhere you have warm bodies with thick wallets, commerce will follow."

The property belongs to Mark Richardson, doing business as Liberdade Sunrise LLC. The plan is to transfer ownership to the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program.

If the work goes as scheduled, residents will be able to move into the units this summer.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287

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