Former Standard-Times building slated for multimillion-dollar overhaul

By Dan McDonald
NEW BEDFORD A Boston-based developer has bought and has multimillion-dollar plans to turn the vacant former Standard-Times building at 555-557 Pleasant St. into retail and office space.
New Bedford Urban Renaissance LLC, an affiliate of the Columbus Group LLC, says construction on the 117-year-old downtown edifice will begin today. Shiawee Yang, the president of the Columbus Group LLC, plans to invest $6 million to $8 million in the five-story, 34,000-square-foot building.
Her group closed on the property, buying it from Jamochamax Realty Trust for $650,000, on April 20, according to the Bristol County Registry of Deeds Southern District office.
Before moving to its current Elm Street location in 1995, The Standard-Times occupied both the five-story building and the former Boys Club, now the adjacent Market Street condominiums.
At one point, in 2007, plans called for the five-story structure to also be developed as condominiums, but that never happened and the building remained vacant.
Yang said her group is talking “to a few significant potential restaurant and office tenants” but offered no names Friday.
The project is Yang’s first in New Bedford.
Yang said subcontractors will begin by clearing the debris from inside the building. Windows will be replaced. The roof will be repaired. The facade of the building will be “cleaned up,” said Yang, who also indicated the historic exterior of the building will be preserved.
Built in 1894, the Renaissance Revival-style building still contains an antiquated printing press in the cavernous basement. One of the first tasks will be to remove that press.
“We’re actually going to completely redesign and rebuild the interior,” Yang said.
She expects construction to last eight months to a year and a half.
Mayor Scott W. Lang welcomed the announcement during a City Hall press conference Friday.
“It will help every property in this area,” Lang said. “Good projects beget good projects.”
The architect for the project, Joseph Sirkovich, a senior associate with the Boston-based Steffian Bradley Architects, said the first floor and basement will be geared toward retailers or restaurants, while the second through fifth floors will be office space.
April 30, 2011 12:00 AM
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