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Work on Essex Street ‘cool space’ to start soon

By Victor Tine – Staff writer

In real estate, the old saying goes, only three things matter: Location, location, location.

Matt Abrams, however, believes that’s not always true. And he’s willing to bet the house on it.

The founding partner of the Boston-based Abrams Group real estate development firm says people will be attracted to the amenities in 15 condominiums he has planned for a vacant former office building at 349 Essex St. in Lawrence.

Abrams said construction is to begin before the end of November and be completed in less than a year. The project includes a new roof, new windows, and a new elevator.

“The only thing that will stay is the shell,” Abrams said.

He said the condos, which will average about 850 square feet of floor area and sell for between $129,000 and $189,000, will have a number of what he called “edgy” features, such as wood floors, exposed brick, large windows, high ceilings and granite counter tops.

“People will come here for the cool space,” he said during a recent walk through the building.

He also thinks the term cool space applies to downtown Lawrence.

“I think Lawrence has that urban fabric that people want,” he said. “This is a great main street.”

The condominium complex will be known as G Lofts. The “G” comes from the building’s original identity when it was built in 1875 as the Gleason Building.

The Abrams Group previously has had successful downtown developments in Lowell and Worcester, Abrams said, and he’s hoping Lawrence is next. The Lowell project is 135 rental apartments, and the Worcester project is 97 condos.

Abrams ticks off the assets Lawrence has, in addition to its “urban feel”: highway access, convenient public transportation to Boston and a new parking garage, although buyers won’t have to worry about parking because each condo unit will come with two indoor parking spaces.

The ground floor will be converted to retail use and will also be sold as a condominium, he said.

The Gleason Building, designed by architect Arthur F. Gray in Romanesque style, has a facade of yellow brick. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.