From Elbridge Gerry School to luxury condos

More than 100 years and around $8 million in renovations later, the Elbridge Gerry Elementary School is now Marblehead’s most recent luxury condo, The Elbridge.

What once was a building in critical need of attention —with aging boilers and walls, faulty windows replaced in the 1980s, and antiquated layouts — the historic school has been renovated with large windows, new walls, insulation, copper gutters and downspouts, a modern look and a luxury feel, while staying true to the history of the building.

“We want the building to have the same look and charm it had 100 years ago when it was built,” said Bill Luster, president of Charing Cross Realty Trust.

The building underwent major renovations, including placing beams and steel to make the building more solid than it was originally. “It was a complete gut renovation and needed everything,” said Dan Fox, president of Merry Fox Realty.

In the approaching weeks, rough plumbing will be installed, leading to closing the walls. The aim is for the condos to be ready for occupation by late spring.

To preserve the history of the building, the exterior will be restored to its original state and the front entry to its original dazzle.

To retain Marblehead charm, the unusually large condominiums of 25,000 square-feet-space were made over with blue wallpaper, gold finishes, and a “beach feel” in the bathrooms that includes high-end, sand-colored ceramic tiles. “Even though they are high-end finishes, we still try to retain what shows the history of the building as well of the town,” said Fox.

The building was sold by a bid from the town of Marblehead to Luster, but the town kept the park located behind the historic site, undertaking a community-based park improvement project in which Charing Cross Realty Trust will be donating funding as part of their proposal.

“The nice thing here is that although they were getting rid of an asset, they went on to a bigger asset by keeping this park for the town. So, they are able to still get some revenue as well as a feature tax revenue which is huge for the town of Marblehead,” said Fox.

“The town of Marblehead should generate over $100,000 a year in tax revenue once we have the eight condominiums sold, and that’s for perpetuity. Yet they are still able to hold on to this great piece of green land right in downtown Marblehead,” added Fox.

To fill the void of new condo-conversion constructions in a town dominated by surviving Colonial-era homes, Fox found Gerry School to be the perfect location for condos that are in high demand.

“We’ve seen that people who either live in Marblehead or vacation in Marblehead want to just be in Marblehead,” said Fox.

Five units of eight units in total have been presold, ranging from $1.1 million to $1.8 million. Fox has no worries about selling the three condos left, which will be put on the market as soon as the renovations are concluded.

The new two-floor condos are open concept, receiving a significant amount of light through large windows that face downtown Marblehead, the Harbor and Salem Sound.

Throughout the process, Luster has found many people interested in the building. “We have some people come by asking for bricks or shingles from the roof all the time because they went to the third grade there, six or seven years of school there,” said Luster.