Five years ago, former Watertown City Councilman Stephen J. Bradley began planning to convert the empty upper floors of his Court Street building into apartments.
These days, Mr. Bradley, whose business, Abbey Carpet, occupies a storefront in the building, and his work crew are putting the final touches on the studio and loft apartments he calls them flats that will occupy the second, third and fourth floors of the building at 150 Court St.
Its been a long time in coming, he said while giving a tour of the 600-square-foot to 1,800-square-foot units Friday.
Work on the $700,000 project began last fall. Mr. Bradley hopes to market the apartments to professionals and military officers. Rents will range from $700 to $1,600.
Putting some chocolate-colored carpeting in stairwells, installing washers and dryers in a common area and doing a variety of minor work in the apartments remain to be completed. Yet hes ready to rent out the units, which feature modern kitchenettes, original brick and woodwork, hardwood floors, stainless and black appliances, apron bathroom sinks and solid porcelain walk-in showers.
As much as I can, I tried to keep as much as the original flavor of the building, he said about the frequent integration of brickwork in the units.
A new front lobby will greet customers to his business and the apartments. Visitors will have to obtain clearance to enter through a security intercom system.
The apartments also will feature infrared radiant heating systems that heat objects and occupants, but not the actual space in the apartments, Mr. Bradley said. It should save tenants about 30 percent in their heating bills, he said.
Theres nothing like it in Watertown, he said.
The project was not without a little controversy, specifically a flap over windows. The disagreement with Neighbors of Watertown Inc. was over whether the planned windows on the third floor were historically correct.
In the end, Mr. Bradley and Neighbors officials worked out an agreement that he could use the smaller third-floor windows as part of the project. But he was required to install transoms above them.
Transoms are small windows placed above solid beams to separate the top of a window or door from the wall.
Mr. Bradley now hopes Neighbors representatives will look at what hes done with the apartments.
In the past two years, the citys Planning Department and Neighbors have been concentrating on getting property owners to create more apartments in the downtown business district. Since 2010, about 50 apartments have been added in that area.
In the coming year, Neighbors plans to look to other property owners for similar projects. The city recently received $400,000 in state funding for the next round of projects.