November 30, 2012

Gerald Hotel sale lining up for finalization next week

Kennebec Valley Community Action Program plans to convert Fairfield landmark into senior housing

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

FAIRFIELD -- Final paperwork nearly was completed Friday for the sale of the historic Gerald Hotel, leading to a $6.4 million plan to convert it into residential housing for low-income seniors.

click image to enlarge

The Gerald Hotel in Fairfield.

Staff file photo

Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, which is buying the building with the help of historic tax credits, plans to open the building to seniors in the fall of 2013.

Developers initially hoped to close the sale in early October, but a combination of scheduling difficulties and paperwork delays pushed the date back several times.

Suzanne Walsh, chief operating officer of the community action program, said some last-minute paperwork still is preventing the final transfer of ownership, which she expects will happen on Dec. 6.

Realtor Tom Munson, who is also a Fairfield selectman, said the closing took more than three hours of signing paperwork to satisfy the various parties.

"You've got people involved from Maine Housing, the town of Fairfield, historic tax credit people," he said. "The complexity of that paperwork is such that if, at the end, you have only a couple of little things left to do, you have probably done fantastically."

"You've got people involved from Maine Housing, the town of Fairfield, historic tax credit people," he said. "The complexity of that paperwork is such that if, at the end, you have only a couple of little things left to do, you have probably done fantastically."

Munson said the sale price of the property was $550,000. The bulk of the project money will be used to pay for the conversion and renovation phase.

Work on the property by contractor Sheridan Construction can begin only when the transfer of ownership from the current owner, Liberdade Sunrise LLC, is complete.

The building's historic features, including tin ceilings, will be preserved as Sheridan installs kitchens and bathrooms for 28 one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units, among other changes.

Munson said that the closing of the deal completes a process that seemed much more abstract three years ago, when he first attended a lecture by the Maine Development Foundation on using tax credits to save historic buildings and rejuvenate downtown areas.

"What was laid out in that presentation is what I've been through," he said. "The one piece of the puzzle that hasn't come to fruition yet is the rejuvenation. I think you'll see that happening over the next two or three years."

The hotel was built in 1900 by Amos F. Gerald and stopped operating as a hotel in 1937. It has served various functions since that time, most recently as the home of the Northern Mattress and Furniture Gallery, which opened in Waterville in 2006. The building was listed as one of the state's most endangered historic properties in 2007 by Maine Preservation.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287

 

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