News that the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, the EDIC, is hiring an architect to jump start the renovation of the former Arnold’s Stationery Store on Central Avenue shows that Executive Director Jim Cowdell knows what he’s doing.
He’s taking a significant structure, vacant for years and literally crumbling but with some remaining architectural integrity and he’s having it remade.
This is good business and exactly what ought to be done on Central Avenue on this precious and almost beautiful section of a once booming downtown Lynn Street.
“This is just the first step in moving forward to make something happen downtown,” Cowdell told the Journal.
Next door to the former stationery shop, which featured an interior deck which substituted for a second floor, and a wide open space on its street floor, Raw Arts has transformed its brick structure from something almost useless into an outstanding example of what an urban art institute and gallery should look like.
With the jewelry shop anchoring one end of the block and John Olson’s Columbia Insurance company anchoring the entirely rehabbed building next to the former stationary shop a the center of the block, the block has a chance to become something unique instead of standard Lynn bill of fare.
“I shopped at Arnold’s Stationery Store from the time I was a kid,” Cowdell recalled.
He knows of what he said.
Who among us who are over 50 and from this city or surrounding towns didn’t shop at that stationery store?
But the era of the stationery store ended ages ago and the building has stood as a silent and empty reminder of Lynn’s downtown fortunes.
Thirty-three Central Avenue was always a building with grace and charm and its interior was warm and a throwback to a time long past with hard wood floors, high ceilings, the interior deck and a wide stairway up to it. And the place was filled with stationery and school supplies and everything that writers needed.
According to Cowdell, about $1 million will be spent to remake the former stationery building into an artist’s building.
“At least 8 artists will be living in spacious lofts conducive to their work when this rehabilitation is complete,” he said. “We’re trying to put people into this area who will contribute to the creation of the artists district which we have already established,” he added.
Cowdell said the rality of the project is that it will create new activity that builds on activity already present.
The immediate area has become the residence for dozens of artists and younger people living in older, rehabbed loft and artist’s spaces.
In this instance, the city has an idea about what it is aiming for.
This isn’t a pie in the sky effort.
This is about adding to the successes already achieved on this block by the EDIC under Cowdell.
The jewelry store, Raw Arts and now the stationery store rehabs are all connected. They all make sense.
Together, they are helping to change the public face and persona of this city by bringing back to life the downtown on this block of Central Avenue.
Nice work EDIC.