ANDOVER — Toddlers and teenagers arriving for art classes on the lower level … couples heading to the main level for a European-style dinner of steak and fish … home buyers excitedly going upstairs to meet with their attorneys to close on their new homes … This diverse range of people will be coming soon to 27 Main St. in downtown Andover, a building that is being transformed and will open in late spring.

Formerly the Draper Block, the building was purchased several years ago from TD Bank by Paul Kneeland and Tom Belhumeur, principals of Touchdown LLC. As project developers, they engaged Channel Building Company of Wilmington for design and construction of the 31,000 square feet of mixed-use com­mercial space on three levels.

“This is a major development and improvement to the heart of downtown Ando­ver,” said John Pearson, Chan­nel’s project architect. “The de­sign of 27 Main St. creates a new identity and vitality at a significant address in Andover center.”

Pearson and the design team, headed by Greg Wiech, Chan­nel’s design director, have ex­panded the existing elevated terrace at the building front and created a new front door by means of new stairs, clad in porcelain tile, up from the side­walk and a new two-story projecting bay above the stairs. The restaurant front on the main floor will feature a movable glass wall opening onto the elevated terrace. Fabric awnings will extend over the terrace, and painted steel brac­kets and tubes can be used for hanging planters and decorative treatments.

“Excited” is the word used by each of the three tenants who have already contracted to move into the building, and space is still available for ad­di­tional tenants.

“It’s highly unique. It’s going to raise the bar for other de­velopers in downtown Ando­ver,” said Jack O’Donohue, ma­na­ging partner of Touchstone Closing, the law firm that will occupy 7,000 square feet on the upper level.

Moving from his current of­fices across the street, “it was important for us to stay in downtown Andover and to be on one floor. How happy we are to be working with Chan­nel to create our new space.”

New to Andover will be Kid­casso, which conducts fine arts classes for children “from high chair to high school,” ac­cording to Laura-Marie Small, Kidcasso founder and art educator. “It’s a really cool building, and we’re a business that’s grounded in being part of the downtown community.”

Kidcasso has operated in New­ton and Wakefield for the past 12 years and will be relocating from its current temporary location on Park Street in Andover.

“We’re excited for this opportunity for growth and a great­er connection,” she said.

The third tenant is very fa­miliar to those who frequent downtown Andover. Paul LaRo­sa, chef and owner of LaRo­sa’s, is planning to launch another addition to the restaurant scene. While still running LaRosa’s on Barnard Street, his new European-style res­tau­rant will be located on the main level of 27 Main St. and will feature an Italian and French flair to steaks and fish, white tablecloths, three-season dining on the elevated terrace overlooking Main Street, and valet parking on weekends. LaRosa hopes Ando­ver residents will no longer have to travel to Boston or Bur­lington for fine dining.

“I like to be a part of everything in town,” he said.

The 27 Main St. building is another chapter in Channel Buil­ding Company’s long history and impact on downtown Andover. Founded by Robert Webster in the 1960s as a new construction company, Chan­nel has renovated the Mus­grove Building at 2 Elm Square, the Barnard Building at 10-16 Main St., and multiple buildings along both sides of Main Street.

Regarding the current project at 27 Main St., Jerry Dio­rio, Channel’s chief operations officer, said, “We’re adding pizzazz to Main Street. The view from the second floor windows is spectacular.”

One challenge of the current project was the tight time schedule, especially affected by September’s gas catastrophe.

“We needed heat to do the work, and we had to relocate gas meters to make the renovations,” Diorio said, adding that there are hidden surprises in every building renovation. “The guts of the building are now brand new, including heat­ing and cooling systems, electrical work, gas, stone, and stainless steel railings.”

Supervising the work is Tom Callahan, senior project su­per­intendent.

“The Town of Andover was great to work with,” said Dio­rio. “We really appreciate the in­spec­tional services, head­ed by Chris Clemente, building com­mis­sioner. They were so helpful.”

The space at 27 Main St. has a history with names familiar to longtime residents. The site originally contained the Bar­nard Building, the Draper Buil­ding and the Pettinghill-Swift Building. Some of the businesses previously on the site include Michael Jays dress shop, Col­pitt’s Travel, Person­al Touch gift shop, the Taylor Shop, An­dover Savings Bank, Naza­rian’s Jewelry, and Wal­den Books.

Paul Kneeland, developer and Channel Building Com­pany president, concluded, “The transformation is awesome, when you compare what we started with and what we’ve got.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.