LEE -- A $2.7 million affordable housing rehabilitation project is nearly complete and almost fully occupied, according to the developer.
Elton Ogden, executive director of the Berkshire Housing Development Corp., said this week that the renovation of the Consolati building at 57 Main St. has wrapped up except for some "punch list" items and cleanup associated with renovating a Civil War-era building.
"Construction went well considering a rehabilitation is about not knowing what you might find when the walls are opened up," he said.
BHDC will mark the project's completion with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Oct.11.
The yearlong renovation mostly involved the interior of the three-story structure, with work done one floor at a time on the 16 one- and two-bedroom apartments in the upper two floors.
In all, 13 of the 16 apartments were occupied when the project began last fall and those same tenants have since returned to the upgraded units, according to Ogden.
"Two of the apartments have new tenants, leaving one vacancy," he noted. "We're reaching out to people on a waiting list to fill the last one."
The first-floor remains commercial space occupied by Mac Caro realty, Finders Keepers antiques and consignment shop and a pet supply store. All three moved in replacing existing businesses that left during -- but not because of -- the renovation work.
While renovation started in 2012, BHDC's quest for financing began five years ago.
After a lengthy process, the agency secured a combination of state funding and private loans to pay for a rehabilitation project that town officials and local business leaders view as crucial to Lee's downtown revitalization effort.
In addition, the Consolati family felt good about selling the three-story structure to BHDC.
"There were no issues with the tenants feeling like they couldn't afford to live there once the work was done," family spokesman Thomas Consolati said.
The building is the second Main Street block to undergo extensive renovation within a two-year period.
In June 2011, local businessman Michael McManmon completed a $3.7 million restoration of the Baird & Benton block at 40-50 Main St. That project created classrooms and office space in the upper two floors -- vacant for more than 50 years -- for McManmon's Lee-based College Internship Program.
The first floor remained commercial space that includes a cafe, art gallery, tanning salon and manicure shop.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.