SALEM — As appeals on F.W. Webb's plans for a showroom on Bridge Street continues in court, the company is now in the final phase of $1 million in renovations to its main building at 295 Bridge St.
The company kicked off the project in April, but recent paintwork covering up faded "ghost" signs on the side of the building and changes to the customer entrance to the building recently brought public attention on the project.
"We're doing a renovation of the building inside — making a self-serve area, including the offices upstairs — and we created ourselves a little more space on the first floor for ourselves," said Robert Mucciarone, the company's chief financial officer.
Webb first bid to buy the "Universal Steel" parking lot next to its building (named for its prior use as a scrap yard) from the city in 2015, with plans for a two-story facility targeting the site.
The proposal proved unpopular among neighbors in the Federal Street neighborhood, prompting Webb to reimagine an expansion on another piece of the property and utilize the parking lot as outdoor storage space. Once that plan went forward and recieved local approvals and a zoning change for the project, those decisions were appealed and, eventually, Webb abandoned its expansion plans completely.
The appeals for the company's attempted ownership of the Universal steel lot are still working their way through court, as are appeals against the company's attempt to build a showroom building on the Alpha Auto site next to the parking lot.
The ongoing, three-phase renovation project is costing the company about $1 million, Mucciarone said.
It includes a full clean-up of the building's basement — a space prone to flooding given the neighboring North River that often turns Bridge Street into a lake — and a full overhaul of the wholesale entrance facing Bridge Street, which is currently closed off due to the project.
The second floor, reserved for office space, is also being redone. The brick buildings third, fourth and fifth floors are used as freight elevator-accessible storage, with "light warehouse stuff like tubs and hot water heaters — the overflow inventory," Mucciarone said.
Overall, the project will finish by the end of the year, according to Mucciarone.
"It had to be in phases, because we had to continue the operations and we didn't want to disrupt what's going on," he said. "We're on to phase three now."