MERIDEN — Investors recently purchased two downtown landmarks with plans to renovate the buildings for new uses.
Huang (Henry) Le, who owns Le’s Sushi in the Boston area, purchased the former Cassidies Diner for $65,000. The classic stainless steel diner was built in 1946.
“That needs a lot of work, almost everything needs to be redone,” Le said. “I have to make a brand new kitchen. I have to build it out another 500 square feet.”
Le wants to expand his business and intends to keep the same Japanese cuisine and name in Meriden. He will keep the shell of the diner car and gut the rest of the interior to install new floors, walls, ceilings, grill stove and seating area.
Le estimates repairs to be well over $100,000. He intends to seek assistance through city and state grant and loan programs.
Making Meriden Business Center Director David Gooley has been working with investors and existing landlords to find financing for necessary repairs to re-open downtown properties. A new sushi restaurant will add Japanese cuisine to the variety of restaurants in the area, he said.
The diner was owned by Jay Eagle Delaney, who ran it for 11 years. A misspelling by a sign maker gave it the name Cassidies. He closed the diner when maintenance costs became prohibitive.
Delaney bought the diner in 2003 from Stephen Prescott, who had operated it as the Justin Time Diner. Delaney had told Prescott he was considering buying a Waterbury diner when Prescott offered his. They settled on a price of $60,000, according to property records.
Le also recently purchased the former Middlesex Community College campus at 55 W. Main St. He plans to make studio apartments on the upper floors for moderate income tenants.
“I have a lot of people looking for rooms,” Le said.
Another building that has been vacant for longer than 5 years is 51 Colony St., the former Butler Paint store.
R& M Builders LLC, of Southbury purchased, the 7,920 square foot building for $129,900 from Alfred Liseo. The former Butler Paint Store has been vacant for more than five years, having been in the the hands of the bank since at least 2012. Liseo bought it in late 2012 for $65,000 and used the space for storage.
“Under the agreement, Mr. Liseo has occupancy of the building for 60 days (through Aug 20),” said city Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. “Once the owner has full access to the building, he will be developing more specific plans.”
Burdelski said R&M is working on a mixed-use development with commercial space below and housing on the second and third floors.