Archive for Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mass. building to see retail

July 23, 2009

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Former Arensberg's building could be back in business

The former home of Arensberg's might have found new life under new ownership. Enlarge video

There soon may be new life for the former Arensberg Shoes building in downtown Lawrence.

Lawrence orthodontist Dan Ranjbar has bought the building and filed new plans with the city that he hopes will make the large Art Deco landmark at 825 Mass. more attractive to retailers.

“I’m definitely not interested in putting a restaurant in there,” Ranjbar said. “I want retail, boutique or spa type businesses. That’s what we’re going to see there.”

To do it though, he’s going to have to rearrange some space. He’s filed plans with City Hall that would allow the ground floor of the building to be split into two retail spaces. The plan also would allow for two office spaces on the top floor, and a retail space in the basement.

“When you go to cities like Boston, their basements are fully utilized, but they aren’t here in downtown,” Ranjbar said. “Our plan is to create a prominent entryway to the basement and also one to the top level of the building.”

The changes are necessary, in part, because most of the interest in the building as it is currently configured has been from potential restaurants. Ranjbar — who is a part owner in the Teller’s building — said he was firmly on the side of people who believe downtown has enough restaurants.

“I think people want to shop and eat when they come to downtown,” Ranjbar said. “We have enough places to eat. We need more places to shop. I will sit on it as long as I can to get that.”

Ranjbar’s plans also don’t call for major changes to the overall look of the building, which was rebuilt in the 1930s to become the community’s Montgomery Ward building.

The major Art Deco themes of the building will remain, but Ranjbar wants to update the ground floor storefront areas to include more glass tile and other features.

“It will be stunning when we get done there,” Ranjbar said. “I want people when they walk into that space to have a similar feeling as when they walk into the Teller’s building.”

Ranjbar — who hopes to have the renovations done by December — said he had begun to receive some interest from potential retail tenants.

“I’m getting a mixed bag on retail,” Ranjbar said. “I have to feel confident that the person I put in there will stay afloat.”

In other development news:

• Plans are still in the works for a new Dunkin’ Donuts store at Sixth and Michigan streets. Lawrence’s Dunkin’ Donuts owner Sonny Patel announced in November that he had plans to build a new 2,400-square-foot store — complete with drive-through — on the northwest corner of Sixth and Michigan where a medical supply store once operated. Patel recently said those plans are still alive, although they have taken longer than he had hoped. He said he hopes to submit the design — which will feature a new look for Dunkin’ Donuts — to the city in the next week or so. He hopes to begin construction in a couple of months, and be open in about six months. The Dunkin’ Donuts at 521 W. 23rd St. will remain open even after the new store is built.

• Add The Granada, 1020 Mass., to the list of bars seeking a sidewalk drinking area, now that the city has loosened the rules for such applications. Building owner Doug Compton also has filed plans to remodel the building’s exterior entryway.

• Preliminary plans are under way to redevelop the Boardwalk Apartments, 510-544 Fireside Drive. Plans have long been under way to rebuild part of the complex that burned in a 2005 fire that killed three people. But in May, the owners of the property announced they were closing the entire complex because of safety concerns. Now, the property owners have filed a new preliminary plat for the property that is one of the first steps in redeveloping the entire complex. Thus far, plans haven’t been filed on what specifically would be on the property, but property owners have kept the multi-family zoning for the property.

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