City approves two development loans
1 year, 7 months ago By Jamie Busen, QuincyJournal.com and WTAD
Bret Austin to purchase two more downtown properties on Maine Street
A local developer has been approved for two more loans from Quincy's Revolving Loan Committee. The way has now been paved for him to move forward with purchasing 729 and 731 Maine Street.
The loans were approved Thursday afternoon - two for $50,000 each. Bret Austin said there will be more than $100,000 spent of his own funds in addition for the purchase, and while the renovation costs haven't been estimated yet - he knows they will be well over that same number.
729 Maine is the site of D & S Commodities - Austin said that business was staying put. Above that are two apartments.
The northwest corner of 8th and Maine used to be the site of a real estate business, but it has been vacant for more than a year. There are eight apartments in that building with several commercial spots. The parking lot, with 17 spaces, is to the west of the building and is also included in the sale.
Austin said all the apartments are rented and in "decent shape" - but the plan is for Austin Properties to update them one by one as they become vacant. Those updates include obtaining high-efficiency HVAC systems, putting laundry machines in each apartment and restructuring the floor plans.
They'd like the commercial space at 8th and Maine to be utilized as professional office suites - for people who need space but don't need an entire place by themselves. They do have some prospects, he said. Austin added that depending on who the renters are, there could be a few walls put up, but "it's pretty well ready to go. More of the renovation is going to be geared toward the residential part."
That means lots of updates, he said, and possible lofts for 731 Maine.
"In order to get our downtown where we want it to be as a City, we need more apartments," Austin said. "We need good, quality residential ... fixed up, renovated, safe and secure with parking."
Austin said the properties - especially 8th and Maine - have everything he looks for when purchasing downtown buildings.
"It has a commercial and residential mix, it's in a very high-profile location and it's a beautiful building with its own parking lot," he said. "Those are the biggies, if we think about the type we want."
Austin said that one of the thoughts he keeps coming back to when it comes to the downtown is that moving forward is key. The quality and quantity of the residential places people can live downtown is vital.
"We want to be moving the neighborhood forward," he said. "It can't be just shops that close at 5:30 p.m. and there's nothing else going on. Good residents will support the restaurants and bars and night life - the stuff that has really taken off. It's been a great change for the downtown."
His renovation plan has two phases, the first of which will be completed by February. The second phase, which is the renovation of the apartments, is slated to be complete by the end of 2014.
Last month, Austin was approved for two loans totaling $60,000 for buildings at 601 Maine, 104 North Sixth and 607-611 Maine.
The revolving loan fund's goal is to stimulate preservation and revitalization of the historic district. The objective is to assist, not replace, conventional financing. According to its brochure, the program provides low-interest loans at a 3 percent interest rate.