From the Boston Globe

Buying into the local flavor

By Doreen Iudica Vigue, Globe Correspondent | September 12, 2004

Beginning with the groundbreaking conversion of the Prince Spaghetti Factory in the North End into living space in the 1970s, Boston has been ripe for converting food-manufacturing facilities into home lofts. Developers and architects say that converting space that once turned out Fig Newtons (now the Kennedy Biscuit Lofts in Cambridge), for example, is highly desirable because of their solid construction, good bones (most have wood floors and beams, high ceilings, and large windows), and location. Most are near public transportation, are built high enough to offer skyline views, and are an easy walk to all of the city's amenities.

And the allure of living in space that made food is a strong one. Strada234 developer Paul Palandjian believes the building's soft, buttery roots as a bakery are a big selling point. "This building was a Boston landmark that everyone knew baked bread and wafted these wonderful odors when you walked by," he said. "Anything that has that kind of history is going to be near and dear to our hearts." Here are a few of the newest food-conversion projects, designed to appeal to a wide range of tastes.

One First

1 First St., Cambridge www.onefirst.com

What it was: The Haviland Candy Co., a 140-year-old maker of sweets, which churned out its last chocolate-covered cherry in 2002. Irving & Casson-A.H. Davenport Co., which designed furniture for the 1902 renovation of the White House, also occupied the space.

What it is: A five-building condo complex under construction with a courtyard. Lofts range from 700 square feet to 2,500 square feet and are priced from $375,000 to $1.1 million. Occupancy should start by early 2006.

Re-use challenge: Three of the six original buildings are being demolished and the buildings remaining will undergo a complete reconstruction.

Leftovers: One of the chocolate mixers will become a water-feature artifact in the courtyard, and photos of the chocolate factory in its heyday will be displayed in the planned common library.

Paris Flats

156-160 Chelsea St., East Boston www.eastbostonlofts.com

What it was: DiLuigi's Inc., one of the largest sausage producers on the East Coast. DiLuigi's now operates out of Danvers.

What it is now: 13 lofts under construction, some with decks and views, ranging from 690 square feet to 1,600 square feet, priced from $234,000 to $469,000.

Re-use challenge: Existing windows were small and sealed to keep in the cool air.

Leftovers: The scent of anise seed, a DiLuigi trademark, still hangs heavy in the air. While developer Brett Levy of My Three Sons Realty LLC loves everything about the project, including the smell, he promises he'll do his best to clear it up. The Paris Flats name comes from the nearby Paris Street flats section of Eastie. "I wanted to call it Pork Place," Levy said. "But everyone told me women would not want to live in Pork Place. There are no synonyms for sausage, except, like the Brat House. See? It only gets worse. So, Paris Flats it is."

Strada234

226-234 Causeway St., Boston www.strada234.com

What it was: A bakery that supplied breads and other baked goods to Stop & Shop for nearly two decades.

What it is now: Offices and retail space are planned on the first six floors, and loft condos with views are on floors 7 to 12, which were an addition to the original bakery. There are 108 condominiums (six remain for sale) ranging from 800 square feet to 2,100 square feet, priced from $400,000 to $1.5 million.

Re-use challenge: The massive bakery ovens supported the fifth and sixth floors and had to be removed very carefully to leave the brick exterior undisturbed.

Leftovers: No vestiges of the bakery remain, but there is talk of putting a bakery or some other food-related business on the first floor.

Biscuit Lofts

1 Envelope Terrace, Worcester www.biscuitlofts.com

What it was: A former manufacturing facility built in 1894 to house a forging company. Bikes, as well as car and steam engines, were manufactured. In 1901 it became the Cartwright Borden Biscuit Co., and from 1910 to 1924 was the New England Biscuit Co. It was last occupied by the Sheppard Envelope Co.

What it is now: 43 loft condos ranging from 846 to 1,850 square feet, priced from the low $200,000s to $349,900. Units have 12-foot ceilings, oversize windows, exposed brick walls, wood beams on the ceilings, original wood plank flooring.

Re-use challenge: All of the windows had to be replaced and everything needed extensive cleaning. The brick exterior had to be shored up and the insides gutted.

Leftovers: Nothing had been baked in the building in over 60 years. "I wish I could tell you we found something, but there wasn't even a can of crackers," said developer Steven Gubb. Nothing harkens to the building's biscuit background -- except its name. "It's appealing and better-sounding than Envelope Condos, don't you think?"

Charleston Lofts

210 Broadway, Everett www.charlestonlofts.com

What it was: The Charleston Chew candy factory. The candy was launched in 1922 and named after the Charleston dance craze.

What it is now: A complex of three rehabbed buildings that will house 226 condos, some duplex town houses with Boston views, ranging from 700 square feet to 1,600 square feet, priced from $215,000 to $540,000. The Charleston Chew building has the best views and a waiting list of 700 for its 155 condos to be completed next year.

Re-use challenge: Integrating modern technology and infrastructure into the old building.

Leftovers: The Charleston Chew sign will remain in some form. Brokers hand out Charleston Chew bars in the sales office.



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