Watch out, because Waltham now has its very own old warehouse loft apartments, just like those found on the South Boston Waterfront. In fact, this development of the disused Watch Factory comes courtesy of Ber-keley Investments Inc., the com- pany behind Congress Street's FP3, which turned old wool warehouses into mod condos.
The Watch Factory, which opened in 1854 and closed in 1957, is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The Waltham Watch Company competed with European watchmakers to become America's first producer of affordable watches. Waltham was dubbed The Watch City and the city seal still bears that title.
Phase one of the Watch Factory's rehabilitation is already complete and comprises commercial units.
"It's a lot of small, creative companies such as Flow Design, who were attracted to the space's funky vibe," says Joe Laurano, director of operations for ResMark, part of Berkeley Investments. "It's great to have the building as a productive space, just as it once was."
Spring sees phase two's 96 loft-style apartments ready for leasing for a May 1 move-in date. A restaurant and cafe are planned to be open before the end of 2012.
"They have huge open living spaces with different designs because we followed the building's original features," says Laurano. "That includes rows and rows of windows, which allowed abundant natural light before there was electricity for the precision work of putting together these little watches."
Phase three adds 67 apartments and an announcement regarding phase four is expected soon.
"This building was a boon for Waltham back then," says Laurano, "and it'll be a boon to the city now."
The Watch Factory sits beside the Charles River, with the River Walk and bike path into Boston just steps away. The train station is about a mile away. Apartments range from studios to three-bedrooms, measuring from 600 to 1,100 square feet; rents run from $1,200 to $2,700 per month. Princeton Properties, 888-897-0673, www.walthamwatchfactory.com