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Former Landry Furniture building in Easthampton to become office and retail space

EASTHAMPTON

The 123-133 Union St. building previously occupied by Landry Furniture will soon become office and retail space. It was purchased Feb. 8 by Kevin A. Perrier, owner of Five Star Building Corp. on East Street.

Perrier, 31, purchased the 31,392-square-foot building for $300,000 from Robert Landry, who ran the Landry Furniture store that operated there from 1972 until last summer. Perrier said he plans to completely renovate the 1847 mill building so it can house his company’s headquarters, office or professional space for lease, and another furniture store.

“We’ve been looking for a while; this is an excellent building and the timing was right,” Perrier said of the purchase. “We’ve been growing by leaps and bounds and we need more office space, and we wanted to stay in Easthampton. It’s a plus that the building is incredible.”

Mayor Michael A. Tautznik said the sale is “wonderful” news.

“It’s the right buyer — the building needs a lot of work and Five Star is capable of doing it,” he said. “The building has historic character and a historic position in the city. It’s great it’s getting reused and not razed.”

An Easthampton native, Perrier said he is excited to return the building, which housed the city’s first mill, to more of its historic look. He is naming it The Button Building after the product it originally produced.

Samuel Williston and partner Horatio Knight built the factory in 1847 to house the Williston-Knight Button Co., which manufactured cloth-covered buttons. He dammed Broad Brook to power the mill, creating Nashwannuck Pond, according to information from the late Easthampton historian Edward Dwyer that was published in the Gazette.

The cost of the required renovations will be more than the building’s $300,000 price tag, Perrier said. He will save between 10 and 15 percent on the project because his company is doing the work, so there won’t be any mark-up, he said.

The work will include installing a new roof, an elevator, a handicapped-accessible bathroom and putting energy-efficient glass in all the boarded-up windows. He also plans to remove the blue awning at the entrance to the former Landry Furniture store and to repaint the building, now off-white, a more subdued color.

Perrier said the basement will be used for storage and Furniture Recyclers, which has a store at 31 Union St., will lease the entire first floor to open a second, larger store.

Five Star Building Corp.’s offices will occupy half of the second floor and the rest of that floor will be renovated into office space. Perrier has not decided yet what the third floor will hold.

After demolition is complete, he hopes to start construction in a few weeks if the Planning Board approves the use at its Feb. 26 meeting. Furniture Recyclers could move in by April, he said.

City studies digester

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center gave the city a $38,000 grant last month to study whether an anaerobic digester that would turn public waste into electricity is a feasible option.

“This could reduce the cost of sludge disposal and produce electricity,” said Mayor Michael A. Tautznik of a digester. “It’s a possibility, but we really need to go through this study.”

The digester, proposed for a site next to the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, would combine food waste from commercial entities with sludge, a by-product left over after the city’s wastewater is treated and discharged into the Connecticut and Manhan rivers. Inside, microorganisms would break down the biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen, producing methane, which can then be used to produce electricity. The process also creates a substance that can be used as a fertilizer.

For the last fiscal year, the city spent $167,572 disposing of sludge at a waste facility and $80,711 on the electricity to run the plant. “The electricity generation could offset those costs,” said City Planner Jessica Allan.

The city’s grant application states that a digester there could take in an estimated 3,650 tons of food waste each year. The state Department of Environmental Protection has said it plans to ban commercial disposal of food waste in landfills starting in 2014.

If the city moves ahead with a digester, Allan said it would likely partner with a private company so the company would build the digester at no cost to the city in exchange for a contract agreeing to provide the sludge and buy the energy at a set rate.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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