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PITTSFIELD -- The 14 refurbished apartments in the Howard Building drew rave reviews on Sunday.

During a three-hour open house, dozens of city and Berkshire residents were enthralled by the refinished hardwood floors, high ceilings, exposed timber beams and large windows -- all original features of the century-old three-story structure.

"Apartment 3-G was my favorite, you have the morning sun and you can see the dome of Pittsfield High School," Barbara Horner noted.

The housing units' historic features, combined with energy-efficient heating, lighting, high-performance kitchen appliances and modern bathrooms were a hit with a couple from Hinsdale.

"I think they're cool and unique, each one different," said David Leslie.

"I like the old bones with the contemporary style," added Fern Leslie. "Makes me want an apartment."

Downtown Pittsfield apartment hunters can start applying for the one- and two-bedroom units, but they won't be ready for occupancy for two more weeks, according to Ian Rasch, vice president of development for Allegrone Construction Co.

The Pittsfield contractor spent $4.8 million to renovate the building at First, Fenn and Federal streets, which includes 10,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

The residential lobby off Federal and the upper floor hallways are adorned with photographs and advertisements of Frank Howard's hardware and agricultural store -- and later a seed company -- that occupied the building from 1916 to 1960. Allegrone bought the building in 2011 for $400,000 and took nearly a year to renovate it.

"We spent a lot time maintaining the historic features such as the floors and beams," Rasch said. "The original mosaic tile [that] was buried under the sidewalk [on Federal Street] had to be lifted up and restored."

He also pointed to the original service elevator doors that were removed, refurbished and hang on the west wall of the residential lobby.

The new-look Howard Building apartments reminded Sheila McKenna of Pittsfield of her days living in The Big Apple.

"This is like a New York City apartment with all the elegance," she said. "What a good use, given the heartache to see a classic building go down -- at least this one was saved."

McKenna referring to the former Plunkett School, diagonally across from the Howard Building, being raised in favor of a new Dunkin' Donuts coffee shop.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.