Suburban Boston Apartment Project to Take Its Cue from Rehabilitated 19th Century Building

Melrose, Mass.--In a $52.5 million endeavor, Wood Partners plans to mix some of the old with a bit of the new to create Alta Stone Place, a multi-structure apartment community in Melrose, Mass.

Melrose, Mass.—In a $52.5 million endeavor, Wood Partners plans to mix some of the old with a bit of the new to create Alta Stone Place, a multi-structure apartment community in Melrose, Mass. The developer will renovate a mill building at the site of the former Boston Rubber Shoe Co. factory, developed in 1883, and construct new buildings to create a 212-residence property with a 19th Century industrial architecture feel.

The shoe factory’s history is ingrained in the local community, as many residents can look to their family tree to find members of generations past who clocked in at the factory every day. The historic rehabilitation of the four-story brick and wood-beam mill structure and its transformation into an apartment building among new structures has long been the plan for the site.

“We’ve been trying to buy this from the previous developer for about two years,” Richard Dickason, managing director of the Northeast Region for Wood Partners, tells MHN. Once the deal was struck, the process moved forward expeditiously, with Wood Partners completing its due diligence and other requisite activities to close the transaction in just 90 days. In terms of the schedule for the historic rehabilitation endeavor, the former developer put Wood Partners ahead of the game. “The previous owner took the property through the zoning process and completed the construction documents, and got to a point where he could put a building on the site.”

Wood Partners is on track to commence the project in June with the architectural firm of Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype Inc. on board to tackle the task of maintaining the architectural integrity of the existing 128-year-old building while melding it seamlessly with the new structures that will be erected on the land, which sits along Washington St.

The old mill building will be joined by two new four-story, wood-frame buildings atop a podium garage and one three-story structure to create a residential complex containing studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units and a 6,500-square-foot clubhouse with a premier fitness facility; game and pub room; media room; cyber café/business center; and conference room. The property will also feature a heated outdoor pool. Despite the modern-day amenities, Alta Stone Place will still have the appearance of a late 19th Century facility. Even the old mill’s eight-story brick smokestack will continue to have its renowned place in Melrose’s skyline.

Evidence of the 1800s-era shoe factory will be on display, not just in the new apartment community’s architecture, but in its interior design as well. “We’re going to have a display case with artifacts that have been collected from the factory, including sample shoes and building plans that we found in a drawer,” Dickason says. Additionally, the case will feature a 100-page photographic documentation report of the property from its earlier days. “It’s a requirement of the Massachusetts Historical Society that we document the building before it’s modified.”

In addition to a home reminiscent of decades past, residents at Alta Stone Place will be able to avail themselves of a bevy of area recreational amenities. The 2,500-acre Middlesex Fells Reservation is nearby, providing space for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback riding. And then there are downtown’s bustling restaurants, cafés and shops just a half-mile away from the apartments.

Still, the old mill will be the most distinctive attraction at Alta Stone Place. “We’re excited about being able to preserve a beautiful, old building that has such a fantastic history,” Dickason says. “It represents a very important part in our history; it’s a testament to the manufacturing industry in the U.S.”

The property’s first residences will be available for occupancy by spring 2012.

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