Two similar buildings, with similar names, lie side by side on High Street. Both are out of commission for this school year, but the similarities in their current conditions end there. One is surrounded by blue scaffolding and construction workers, with the noise of drills and electric saws intermixed with music emanating from its open front door. The other’s front door is boarded up, with beer bottles and fire damage visible through broken windows.
The Oxford and the Cambridge Arms, located at 36 and 32 High St. are popular off-campus apartment buildings closed until next spring. Recently purchased by the Boston firm Beacon Corcoran Jennison Partners, both will undergo construction throughout the fall and winter, with the expected finishing dates in March for the Cambridge and May for the Oxford.
Howard Cohen, a spokesman for Beacon, said the construction process is moving along on schedule, with major renovations being made to the Cambridge Arms, and the Oxford being completely gutted. While no work has begun yet on the Oxford, the building did receive its permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals over the summer and work should begin soon, Cohen said.
“The units will be almost identical to what was there before,” Cohen said. “What we’re doing is making repairs and upgrades to all systems and units.”
Karen Gilvarg, executive director of the City Plan Department, said her office has been overseeing a process that is progressing on schedule.
“They have a hot housing market downtown,” Gilvarg said. “I’m sure they’re anxious to complete it.”
These repairs and upgrades include remodeling bathrooms, refurbishing floors, retreating walls, repairing windows and adding closet space, Cohen said of construction on the Cambridge Arms.
The Oxford will be totally overhauled, he said.
On April 23, a fire at the Oxford damaged significant portions of the building, which has remained boarded up. Previously in a state of disrepair, it had been scheduled for renovation before the fire.
“In many ways, the fire makes it all easier,” Cohen said. “Now we can gut everything inside and start over from scratch.”
The buildings contain a total of 78 apartment units, most of which were occupied by Yale students. Cohen said he expects students will continue to comprise the majority of the tenants after renovations but that non-Yale residents may also be interested.
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