This historic conversion artfully transforms a sprawling four-story jewelry factory, originally built in 1891 by Watson, Newell & Co, into 91 mixed-income units for active adults age 55+. Designed, constructed and commissioned as an Enterprise Green Community (EGC), the firm’s sensitive design approach involved the rehabilitation of the original 139,365 square foot brick structure and a series of later additions. Exacting preservation efforts included the restoration of more than 350 original window openings, many of which had been hidden beneath siding. Other significant project work involved realigning floor heights between the building’s various wings, and raising the first floor by nine inches to mitigate potential flooding from the adjacent Ten Mile River.
Taking advantage of the building’s dramatic interior spaces, the team sought creative ways to encourage resident socialization. The former boiler room now serves as a unique double-height tenant lounge with exposed brick, steel structure, and timber ceilings that span 28 feet. Six original 5’x7’ wood windows, the original wood loading dock door, and cast-iron furnace doors were salvaged and rehabilitated to their original form, adding to the historic fabric of the renovated building. A variety of furniture configurations provide seniors with socialization preferences; strategically placed clusters invite interactions, which convert long corridors into new gathering areas for informal engagement. The light-filled lounge features a community kitchen, TV nook, and game area. Additional amenity spaces include a computer room and library, theater, and fitness/yoga area. The community’s 75 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom units, feature design elements such as original steel and wood beams and columns, exposed brick, and wide-plank wood ceilings. Artwork and interior details are inspired by antique sterling-silver patterns, industrial machinery, and artifacts found onsite. Nature-derived colors create visual interest and enliven the environment by adding vibrant hues throughout.
Located on an 8.8 acre wooded riverfront site, Sterling Lofts is tastefully appointed with native plantings and provides ample opportunities for outdoor activity. Patio seating and a grilling area adjacent to the tenant lounge lead to a walking path that extends down to the water’s edge. The property also includes a 5,000 square foot programming space intended for an Adult Day Health Center for tenants and the surrounding community. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.