Developer proposes BCC space for historic newspaper building

By Charis Anderson

NEW BEDFORD — Work on a multimillion-dollar renovation of the former Standard-Times building on Market Street could start within three months, according to the project’s developer.

Columbus Capital Advisors LLC has a purchase agreement in place with the building’s current owner and expects to close on the sale and start the initial phase of construction within about 90 days, according to Christopher Arruda, managing principal of CCA.

CCA is one of the funds managed by Lincoln Street Capital, a Rockland-based real estate investment firm of which Arruda is also managing principal.

“We’re ready to go,” Arruda said.

The company submitted a proposal to the state Division of Capital Asset Management to redevelop the building as laboratory, classroom and office space for Bristol Community College, according to Arruda.

The Division of Capital Asset Management put out a request for proposals earlier this year; submissions were due Sept. 2.
The Standard-Times has submitted a public records request to the Division of Capital Asset Management for all of the proposals that were submitted and is awaiting a response.

Arruda said he plans to renovate the building — a project that will cost upwards of $15 million, he said — regardless of whether his bid to the Division of Capital Asset Management is successful.

“We’ve got a plan C and plan D and a plan E,” he said. “We were always planning alternative uses.”

The five-story building, located on the corner of Market and Pleasant streets, was built in about 1894 and is a contributing building to the Central New Bedford National Register Historic District, according to the city’s Historical Commission.
It has been vacant since 1995, according to the Historical Commission.

If CCA’s proposal is selected by BCC and the Division of Capital Asset Management, the basement would be renovated into laboratory space for biology, chemistry and computer classes, while the building’s upper floors would be converted primarily into classroom space with offices on the fifth floor, according to plans presented to the city Zoning Board of Appeals.

The ground floor would feature reception and common areas, as well as a bookstore and a small cafeteria, according to the plans.

“This type of use will certainly help revitalize the downtown area,” said Christian Farland, president of Thompson Farland Inc., a city engineering firm that is working on the project, at a zoning board meeting earlier this month.

CCA applied to the zoning board for a variance to the parking requirements under the city’s zoning code, which was granted.
If CCA’s bid is not selected, the building will still be renovated to accommodate a mix of uses, including some sort of pedestrian-friendly retail on the ground floor, according to Arruda.
September 21, 2010 12:00 AM

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