December 7, 2012

Gerald Hotel sale finalized; senior housing project in Fairfield moves forward

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD -- The sale of the former Gerald Hotel was finalized on Friday, allowing Sheridan Construction to begin preparing the site for a multi-million dollar renovation project that will convert the historic structure into housing for low-income seniors.

click image to enlarge

Realtor Tom Munson walks through the ornate dining room at the former Gerald Hotel in Fairfield recently. The Main Street fixture building has been sold and will be renovated into apartments for low-income seniors.

Staff photo by David Leaming

The hotel was sold for $550,000 to the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, which is using historic tax credits to help finance the project.

Suzanne Walsh, chief operating officer at the community program, confirmed that the closing had been completed after several delays. The previous owner was Liberdade Sunrises LLC, which is owned by Mark Richardson.

Don Avery, Sheridan's lead estimator on the project, said work will be ongoing throughout the winter. In the early stages, a smaller crew of 10 to 15 people will be doing most of the demolition work inside the building. The largest workforce is expected to be on the site in late spring or early summer, when Avery said 80 to 100 people could be working at one time.

Downtown retailers have expressed hope that the presence of the construction workers would help to stimulate their business in the town's core.

This week, Sheridan established fencing around the site. Beginning Monday, Avery said equipment would be moved to the site, the air would be tested for lead levels and some selected demolition would take place.

Sometime in the next few weeks, a small building on the property that used to house a bottle redemption center will be removed.

While some of the work will be completed by subcontractors, Avery said most of the work would be performed by Sheridan.

The building's historic features, including tin ceilings, ornate wood bannisters and wooden carvings, will be preserved, a requirement of the historic tax credits that have helped to make the deal possible.

Developers initially hoped to complete the sale in early October, but the complexity of the deal and scheduling problems caused the closing to be rescheduled several times.

Most of the paperwork for the closing on the deal was signed Nov. 30, but there were a few outstanding items that were completed this week, according to Realtor Tom Munson.

Walsh said she expects to open the building, which will contain 28 apartments, to low-income seniors in the fall.

The hotel, built in 1900 by Amos F. Gerald, functioned as a hotel for nearly four decades. In 2006, the building's most recent occupant, Northern Mattress and Furniture Gallery, moved to Waterville.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287
mhhetling@centralmaine.com

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