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Sinatra buys former Community Action Organization building

Developer Nick Sinatra has struck again, buying the former Community Action Organization headquarters building with plans to convert the nearly 90-year-old building into apartments.

Sinatra paid $1 million to buy the three-story structure at 70 Harvard Place, which housed the CAO until the social services agency and Head Start operator finally moved to a new location. “We have had it under contract for quite a while,” he said. “We waited patiently for CAO to leave under their own terms.”

The 24,591-square-foot building will become a new mixed-use complex with both residential and commercial space under the developer’s plans for a $3.5 million adaptive-reuse project. Specifically, Sinatra envisions 30 to 32 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with market rates of $1,200 to $1,300 per month, similar to his Fenton Village project at Main and West Ferry streets.

There would also be about 2,500 square feet of blended office and retail space, for an “amenity-driven tenant” like a gym or other service business that would serve tenants but also have its own clientele. He said he’s not looking for a pure retail shop or restaurant.

Plans are still being formulated, but Sinatra said he hopes to bring his proposal to the Planning Board by the end of summer for approval. That would be followed by about 12 months of construction, with completion in fall 2017.

Erected in 1929, the building was originally conceived as a place to “provide unfortunate females a pleasant home,” called Ingleside Home, with a donor pool that included leading businessman and philanthropist Seymour Knox, according to literature cited by Sinatra. A plaque in the entryway still lists those supporters.

The developer and his team are still doing additional research on the building’s past, as part of their application to the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service for historic tax credits to help finance the project. “It has an unbelievable history to it,” he said.