NEW YORK TIMES

 

FEBRUARY 7, 1988

 

Holyoke, Mass

 

One Victorian for Six Condos

 

When Leslie Clement first saw the Cleary-Fitzgerald home in 1986, it had been vacant and on the market for almost a year.  The 24-room, 97-year-old Victorian sits on the fringes of the city’s faded downtown. 

 

After a tour with Tom Ripa, who represented the owners, Ms. Clement bought the structure for $103,000.  She spent $300,000 more to renovate it into six condominiums.  So far, four of the condominiums have been sold for $90,000 to $100,000 with monthly maintenance of $250. 

 

Although there are many Victorian-era hoes in this part of western Massachusetts, few have been converted into condominiums.

 

Ms. Clement said she became a carpenter after graduating from college because she “had something to prove.”  Now she heads her own company, Clement Restorations of Springfield, Mass.  Amoung her projects was the remodeling of 19 older homes in Springfield into 24 apartments which rent for $500 to $750.

 

Ms. Clement, 29 years old, found that Holyoke’s relatively low rents made the investment more financially feasible as a condominium.  The two- abd three-bedroom units were marketed as “historical condominiums” and attracted a mix of single people, couples and investors.

 

“It was a dream house,” Ms. Clement said.  Build in what had been one of the city’s elite neighborhoods, the three-story house is on a slope with views of downtown and the surrounding mountains.  The lot is 120 feet by 300 feet.

 

In the conversion, Ms. Clement preserved the exterior which has turrets and porches and much of the interior which features tin ceilings, oak floors and the original boiler in perfect condition.

 

After the city approved the conversion of the carriage house on the grounds into a dwelling, it was also sold for $34,000.  The owner plans to spend $100,000 to renovate the building as a single family residence.

 

Clement sees the house as a model of what can be done to preserve such structures in downtown areas.  Other Victorian homes in the city are said to be attracting renewed interest as single-family homes.

 

Ms. Clement, who is developing 24 luxury condominiums in Victorian-style buildings in a historic district of Springfield, said the region’s low unemployment rate and high demand for affordable housing continued to make the conversion of older homes into apartments and condominiums profitable. 

 

Anne-Gerard Flynn