On the street
Some sort of specialty store, a clothing store or a toy store.
It’s been a bakery, a Montgomery Ward and most recently a shoe store. Now a Lawrence resident has grand plans for the historic Arensberg’s building on Massachusetts Street.
“I walked in and when I went to the top floor and saw these huge windows overlooking Mass., I just fell in love with it,” said Dr. Dan Ranjbar, who bought the 18,000-square-foot building in July.
Now Ranjbar, an orthodontist by day, has begun the process of remodeling the building at 825 Mass. He hopes to convert the ground floor into two separate retail spaces and build three condos on the top floor, giving the entire building a facelift.
“It’s kind of a labor of love for me,” Ranjbar said. “I want to do something that’s kind of a thank you to Lawrence. It’s going to be incredible.”
Ranjbar and his contractor are also giving back in another way. When they started the process of gutting the building a couple of weeks ago, they decided to try to salvage as much as they could, including fixtures, floorboards and fluorescent lighting.
They donated the items to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 708 Conn., which then sells the materials to raise funds to build more Habitat homes.
“It’s easier to take a sledge hammer and plow through it, but if they can re-use it, it makes a whole lot of sense to do that,” Ranjbar said.
So last week, crews from the Habitat Re Store began hauling truckload after truckload of materials away, including more than one ton of scrap metal they were able to recycle.
Ranjbar and the ReStore said it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
“We depend on businesses, contractors and individuals to donate those goods,” ReStore Manager Michele Johnson said. “Also, all of those things could have been going to the landfill, so we’re diverting tons and tons every year from the landfill.”
Ranjbar hopes to have the renovation complete in the next three or four months, and although he’s been approached by bars and restaurants interested in the space, he’s convinced retail is the best use for it.
“I’ve been here for 15 years, and Lawrence has been wonderful for me,” Ranjbar said. “If I can improve on what’s going on downtown, this is my way of saying thanks.”