Second chance

LEWISTOWN – A resurrection of sorts is under way at the building formerly known as the Hotel Lewistown at 20 S. Main St.

The building, constructed in 1936, was shut down in 2010 and has sat idle until just recently when a local business man, Joe Gagliardo, decided it was time for a change.

Gagliardo is no stranger to these types of projects, having been involved with the rehabilitation of the Chestnut Street Apartments, which he also owns.

The Hotel Lewistown will be transformed into Ansal Apartments, named for the owner’s parents, Antonietta and Salvatore. What was 78 hotel rooms will become 22 apartments in a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom configurations.

Gagliardo said he kind of had his eye on the building since the moment it closed and saw the potential it would have with a little bit of work.

Gagliardo spoke with some people at Juniata Valley Bank, which helped finance the Chestnut Street project, and he pitched them his idea for the property. And as they say, that was that. Gagliardo estimates the project will cost around $575,000.

Workers are currently gutting the building, while at the same time attempting to preserve some of the fixtures in the lobby and entrance way. Even the old elevator door, with the Hotel Lewistown emblem, will be preserved. The former restaurant area will be converted into a community room available to tenants for family parties or dinners.

Gagliardo hopes to have the project completed by September.

“The Juniata Valley Bank has been an invaluable partner in the rehabilitation of my Chestnut Street Apartments, as well as Crider-Mitchell Construction Company, Lepley Electric and Woods Plumbing and I look forward to working with this team on this project,” Gagliardo said of the local businesses involved with the project.

“It does take a team effort to put these types of projects together,” said Jim Zubler, President of Downtown Lewistown Inc.

DLI is providing support by reviewing a range of tax credit options, development strategies and assisting with coordination of market groups, which Gagliardo is thankful for.

Marcie Barber, with JVB, said from the bank’s perspective, it’s a win for everyone.

Barber said the project was about reclaiming the past on a landmark building.

Allison Fisher, director of the Mifflin Juniata Human Services Department and coordinator of the Housing Coalition, said the coalition had been involved with this property since it closed in 2010, in a variety of ways including working with community leaders and analyzing data and market studies to identify real housing needs.

“It is so exciting to see those needs now being met by developments like the proposed Ansal Development, Mann Edge Terrace and others to come,” Fisher said.

“This is a major historic landmark building that will be adaptively reused providing housing for a conservatively estimated 50 people accessing goods and services in downtown. It will be a nice complement to the newly constructed Mann Edge Terrace units situated only a block away,” Zubler said.