November 16, 2012

Gerald Hotel sale delayed by details

Project to convert historic Fairfield building to housing set back two weeks

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD -- The sale of the historic Gerald Hotel, the next step towards making the building residential housing, has been delayed about two weeks.

click image to enlarge

The Gerald Hotel in Fairfield.

Staff file photo

As soon as the papers are signed, however, crews will begin demolition for the $6.4 million project, a representative from contractor Sheridan Construction said.

Earlier this month, a tentative sale closing date of Friday had been set, but real estate agent Tom Munson said that minor delays have pushed the closing off for two weeks.

"It doesn't seem like a big crisis to anybody that I've talked to," Munson said. "There are a lot of little details to tie up at the end of project like this and it's just taking a little extra time."

Kennebec Valley Community Action Program plans to buy the property and convert it into 28 residential units for low-income seniors by fall of 2013.

Suzanne Walsh, chief operating officer for the community action program, said the closing could have happened in a week but it was easier to schedule for after Thanksgiving.

Business owners said the local economy will be helped in both the short and the long term by the construction activity and new Main Street residents.

Craig Nelson, an attorney hired by the community action program, said that there are no major impediments to the closing.

"It's all set to go," he said. "It's just these last-minute details. It's a very exciting project to save a beautiful old building like that."

Sheridan will perform a lot of the work itself rather than subcontracting, according to Don Avery, the company's lead estimator on the project.

"We've basically got crews ready to go as soon as they give us the green light," said Avery.

Avery said that the early stages of the project will involve gutting the historic building while preserving its unique features. The hotel's tin ceilings, for example, will be removed and stored while sheet rock is installed to satisfy fire codes.

He said the closing date and the weather will dictate whether Sheridan is able to demolish the bottle redemption building and the attached carport this season. The parking lot will eventually be regraded, but Avery said no paving will be done this year.

In September, developers said they hoped to close on the deal in early October.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287


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