The former Our Lady of Mercy on State Road has been renovated into high-end apartments.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The renovation of Our Lady of Mercy Church into high-end apartments has been completed and new tenants may calling it home in just a few weeks.
Scarafoni Associates has completely renovated the interior of the State Road church into four high-end apartments. Work is "98 percent" complete, according to developer David Carver, and residents could be moving in as early as Sept. 1.
"Two out of the four are almost leased. We've been talking to a few people," Carver said on Friday when he held an open house to show off the new renovations.
The four units, aptly named "altar unit, west chapel, east chapel and choir loft," in the 1916 building feature many of the church's original woodwork and stained glass. Each two-bedroom unit is unique, with various nooks and crannies and relics of the Catholic church, giving the tenants places unlike any others in the area.
"It is always difficult to come up with a floor plan for a church," Carver said.
Despite monthly rents of $1,575, including utilities, for three of the units and $1,495, without utilities for the choir loft, Carver said the project isn't a money-maker, but rather just an effort to save the building. Previously, he said the only way to make the project feasible for investors was to do four high-end units instead of many apartments. Now, his hope is to find just four tenants to rent them out.
"All of the trades have signed off. We just need final sign off from the building inspector," he said.
The renovations involved some 20 subcontractors over nine months but ultimately, Carver said, the results were just as he envisioned when he first walked through the church last summer.
The front door is a private access for a second floor, 1,350 square-foot unit. At the top of the stairs, the choir loft railings were saved along with a large window facing Mount Greylock — the top of which retains the church's stained glass. New floors were built out from the choir loft that stretches about halfway across the sanctuary space and walls divide out two bedrooms, the bathroom, kitchen, dining room and laundry room.
The other three units are accessed by the door on the west side of the building, where the parking lot is located. That door opens to a short hallway and to the right, two nearly identical units were built in the sanctuary area. Those units are 1,300 square feet and 1,250 square feet and stretch back toward the front doors of the church. Those feature living room areas with tall ceilings and some of the stained glass.
The area where the alter had stood is a two-floor, 1,250 square-foot unit. A bedroom and bathroom are located upstairs while the other bedroom, another bathroom and the living room and kitchen are downstairs.
This is the second church and third former Catholic diocese property Carver has taken on. He renovated the former St. Raphael's Church and its rectory in Williamstown into an eight-unit affordable housing project and turned the former Notre Dame School in Pittsfield into market-rate apartment rentals. Some of the materials from the Notre Dame School were saved and used in various places throughout Our Lady of Mercy.
While Carver says he wants to save the historic building, not all of them can be saved. Our Lady of Mercy was salvageable because the structure consisted of a lot of concrete and steel. Carver said the workers didn't face any surprises during the project.
"It was easier because of the structure. This one was new enough to be saved," Carver said.
Our Lady of Mercy is just one of many former Catholic churches in the county that were put on the market by the Diocese of Springfield after a wave of closings. Some have been put to new use, like St. Raphael's or Notre Dame Church in Pittsfield, which was turned into Shire City Sanctuary. Other churches have been demolished or remain in limbo.
Notable church closings include St. Francis in North Adams, which was eyed to be demolished to make way for a CVS, and St. Mary's in Pittsfield for a Dunkin' Donuts. Fierce opposition grew in both cities halting those plans. St. Stanislaus Kostka in Adams was supposed to be closed but a three-year vigil kept the diocese from shutting the doors. St. Theresa's in Pittsfield faced the wrecking ball to be replaced by Berkshire Place's new residential facility.
Carver says the rental units are now being marketed for tenants.
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Looks awesome. I hope this is successful for Mr. Carver because I hope that other historical buildings can be put to creative use based on this success.
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