ST. ALBANS CITY — After 20 years standing empty, the old state office building on Kingman Street is on track to receive a modern update.
The St. Albans City Council approved the sale of 45 Kingman St. to developer Jim Cameron Monday night. The goal is to add housing space on the top floors and modernize the first to provide downtown businesses more space to grow.
Cameron expects to get started on upgrades in December or January and to open it for use by the summer, he told the Messenger on Thursday.
Built in the late 19th century, the granite-covered building looms over the intersection of Federal and Kingman streets. Its exterior features arched windows and detailed stonework.
Cameron said some of the highlights of the interior include granite steps and treads, a circular staircase and 2-foot-thick masonry walls throughout.
Because much of the roughly 10,000-square-foot building is constructed using masonry work, Cameron said, he plans on adapting the majority of the original floor plan. He expects to fit eight housing units — mostly two-bedroom market-rate apartments — in the top floors. Under the sales agreement, he will also be collaborating with the city to find the best use for the first floor.
In that space, Cameron said there are a few offices that won’t need much work, but the building’s old mailing room, with its 16-foot high ceilings, could be adapted into a co-working space if the need is identified.
“I’m thrilled to buy the building,” Cameron said. “I think it’s really gorgeous.”
Cameron said he’s already added new water and sewer lines for the building. Some future plans include restoring the old windows, cleaning the exterior and replacing the old parking lot with a permeable one. He set the total cost for improvements he expects to make on the building at $1.7 million.
The city originally purchased the building in early 2020 for $50,000. The sales agreement between the city and Cameron sells it for the same price.
The agreement states the city will be responsible for the remediation of any environmental issues found within the building. City manager Dominic Cloud said he expects any costs associated with remediation will be minor, and that multiple funding avenues — such as tax-increment financing or brownfield grants — can be used to curb any repair costs the city should encounter on the project.
The city’s Phase II environmental site assessment has yet to be completed.
After city council’s approval, Mayor Tim Smith thanked staff for their efforts in facilitating development of the building.
“This would not be happening if the city didn't step in and initiate the initial purchase,” Smith said.
Cameron said he’s been working closely with the city to identify additional areas that could use development.
His company, Green Dolphin LLC, is finishing the new building for the St. Albans Police Department and restoring the courthouse. He’s also responsible for building multiple housing projects throughout the city, the restoration of a handful of building facades and the construction of the Greg Brown Lodge at Hard’Ack, which was completed in late July.