Construction at the Colony Mill on West Street in Keene is slated to wrap up this fall, and apartments could be ready for showing before the year’s end, according to an official with the project.
Benjamin Kelley is overseeing construction as a partner with Brady Sullivan Keene Properties, the local arm of the Manchester firm that’s redeveloping the Colony Mill.
The mill’s 112,000-square-foot building will house the apartments, but the property also encompasses the Elm City Brewing Co., Keene Casino and NBT Bank, which recently opened in a standalone building that formerly housed Ye Goodie Shoppe.
Kelley said the plans haven’t changed for the apartments: 89 units of varying sizes and layouts, averaging around 900 square feet and most with two bedrooms.
While the project is a few months behind schedule, Kelley said it’s making good progress, and he expects the mill to be ready for pre-leasing sometime this fall. During pre-leasing, prospective tenants can put down a deposit for an apartment to rent when it’s finished.
Units are in all phases of construction, he added. Crews are starting at the highest floors and working their way down, so there are top-floor apartments with granite countertops and heating and cooling, he said, while there are units on the bottom that still need sheetrock and flooring.
Kitchens have been installed in about 30 units, Kelley said Thursday, and will be built in another 20 to 30 apartments within the next few weeks.
Constructed in the mid-1700s and rebuilt a century later after subsequent fires, the Faulkner and Colony Mill employed more than 500 people at its peak during World War II, producing more than 1.4 million yards of cloth for the Allied countries. When the market declined in the 1950s, the mill went out of business and sat vacant for nearly three decades.
Then Emile J. Legere of Spofford bought it, redeveloped and reopened the mill in 1983 as the Colony Mill Marketplace and leased to a variety of eateries and retailers over the years.
Legere sold the property to Mayo Seven LLC in 2003 for $8.5 million, according to city records. In the 10 years that followed, the marketplace saw a steady decline in business. In 2014, Brady Sullivan purchased the mill and the adjacent Center at Keene (now called The Center at Colony Mill) from the Mayo Group for $4.5 million. (Brady Sullivan has since sold the Emerald Street shopping center.)
Kelley told The Sentinel last year that, by mid-2016, it became clear that the Colony Mill was no longer sustainable as a marketplace, as Brady Sullivan had intended to leave it.
The company has renovated several mills into housing developments in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and decided to do the same in Keene.
Most of the marketplace tenants moved out during the first half of 2017 — many to The Center at Colony Mill or elsewhere in downtown Keene.
Kelley said Brady Sullivan won’t begin the pre-leasing process with prospective apartment tenants until the property is “buttoned-up” and ready for showing. Until then, he said the company continues to field calls and emails about the apartments and takes contact information to keep people updated on the mill’s progress.
For more information, call Brady Sullivan Properties at 622-6223.