A historic building in downtown Montgomery has been sold. The Bell Building, built in 1907 by businessman Newton Bell, was once the tallest building in downtown.
Three Virginia-based companies, MAL, LP and Red Leaf Development, have purchased the 187 foot tall building with plans to turn it into residential space. The initial plan for the Bell Building, or what will be known as the "Historic Bell Lofts", is 80 residential loft apartments on the upper floors with retail and restaurant space on the ground level.
The Bell Building is located on the corner of Montgomery and Lee Streets, and is adjacent to the Montgomery Campus of Troy University.
Mayor Strange says the purchase comes at a time when downtown is experiencing a development boom and demand for living space continues to grow. The cost of the building was "north of $3 million" the mayor said.
"It just confirms the fact that residential living in downtown Montgomery is something that is underserved," Mayor Strange said. "You get these developed, in this case from Indiana, say we want to come and be a part of what is going on in Montgomery."
Mayor Strange says as the number of residential projects downtown rises, so do the chances of convincing a grocery store to locate in the area. Stores like Publix have agreed to build in downtown Birmingham, but the mayor adds those chains typically require at least 1,200 downtown housing units before they'll move into the area. Montgomery currently has just 700.
"While these projects are not inexpensive," the mayor said, "this will be one that will be exciting to bring online." He expects the project will take at least a year to complete.
The total development cost for the project is expected to be $21.4 million.
The Bell Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
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