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Chelsea's historic Longworth Complex is for sale: Cost, $1

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The chance to buy a wealth of building space in downtown Chelsea for $1 is now on the table.

The city of Chelsea is now accepting redevelopment proposals for the historic Longworth Complex of three connected buildings totaling over 18,500 square feet. Proposals are contingent upon a developer committing to a minimum $1 million in investment in the property and also to placing it back on the city's tax rolls. The site is considered part of downtown Chelsea's listing on the National Register of Historic Places and thus qualifies for a 20% federal historic tax credit for rehabilitation. REU assistance (a water and sewage subsidy) and a $200,000 federal asbestos remediation grant are also on offer.

The complex includes the the 760-square-foot 1947 Art Moderne-styled Daniels Showroom at 118 North Main St; the two-story, 7,600-square-foot 1901 Mack Building at 102 Jackson St.; and the site-cast concrete block 1905 Chelsea House-Livery Barn at 110 Jackson St., with 10,200 square feet spread over two floors.

A circa-1960s 1,600-square-foot addition to the rear of the livery that housed the now-defunct Longworth Plating facility is included in the property sale but not the developable square footage, as a developer would most likely choose to demolish it, says Tom Girard, a board member of Preservation Chelsea, a non-profit advocate for redevelopment and preservation of historic properties.

Girard characterizes the buildings as being "in pretty rough shape". New roofs, leak repairs and other structural work will need to be addressed. However, the complex is still seen as viable and suited for art studio and gallery space, a music or entertainment venue, or apartments with indoor parking. Other developers might consider it for office-oriented space with first-floor retail.

"According to some history folks, this may be the only town in the country where the original depot, the original hotel, and the original livery are all still standing in their original location," Girard notes. "If the livery is torn down, and that's been bandied about by a number of folks, that's just a number of little things that would be lost in the process."

The city of Chelsea has issued a request for proposals, which are due by April 27. Preservation Chelsea has sent information on the RFP to about 160 potential developers, construction firms, financiers, and potential tenants. There has been some interest, Girard says.

"We won't see 160 people get interested, but if we get half a dozen serious proposals that responsibly redevelop the site, we'd be pretty excited about that."

Source: Tom Girard, board member of Preservation Chelsea
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar
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