Aug. 3—The developer behind plans to repurpose a former billiards club and jewelry store on Elm Street in Manchester into a mixed-use development hopes to start construction within the next few months.
The project will join several other high-profile projects along Manchester's main drag.
The planning board approved the project at the former Lemay Brothers Jewelers and Raxx Billiards at 1211 and 1217 Elm St. in December 2018.
"We put it on pause for a variety of reasons," developer Robynne Alexander said. The interior has already been gutted, but the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the construction plans.
On Thursday, Alexander will ask the planning board for a second extension of site plan approval, but she expects to be able to complete most of the construction within the year. Building permits are expected to be pulled within 90 days.
In January 2020, the planning board granted an 18-month extension on the project, to be called Signature on Elm.
The building will be the latest construction project on Elm Street with Red Oak Apartment Homes building a six-story, 95,288-square-foot building with 90 apartments at 409 Elm St. across from Market Basket and Members First Credit Union building a new headquarters at the intersection with Salmon Street.
Alexander said the pandemic brought on a "whole bunch of challenges" including increased costs of goods, delays in shipments and a labor shortage.
North and South Construction in Newington was brought on to complete the $7 million project, which will be paid for with a mix of financing and personal funds.
The 60,000-square-foot building will be transformed into 33 apartments, a cafe or diner, public self-storage, office space and a place to pick up packages. A previous plan to include a fitness center has been eliminated after the Zoo Health Club Express opened at 977 Elm St.
"With COVID there have been changes in the commercial sector," she said.
The apartments will include 10 two-bedroom units, 17 one-bedrooms and six studios, Alexander said. The units will be rented at market rate. One amenity for commercial and residential residents will be a rooftop deck.
A speakeasy-style bar will feature two safes from the 1940s at the former Lemay Brothers Jewelers.
Plans call to preserve the Lemay sign, but improvements will be made to the facade of the building.
"We want to honor the past, while embracing the future," Alexander said.