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Islanders buy Lynwood

The 1930s vintage, Tudor-styled building will be renovated.

Ever since the Lynwood Center commercial building went on the market early this year, tenants have speculated on the fate of the historic structure.

“For awhile there we were kind of worried,” said Matti Freedman, a Lynwood Theatre employee. “We didn’t know what would happen to the building or the theater under a new owner.”

The building’s future has cleared a bit, since islanders Steve Romein and Ty Cramer. Purchase price was not disclosed, but the property had been listed at $4 million.

The pair shares a vision of preserving and improving the south-end community hub, they said.

“The Lynwood building is really the center of the south end and we want it to remain that way,” Romein said. “This place has a historical identity and almost everyone on the island has a relation to it.”

Romein, an architect by trade, and his wife Cramer see a pressing need for refurbishment and consider it a challenging venture.

“My wife had a long history on the south end of the island and lots of memories from summers growing up here,” Romein said. “More recently, we would always pass this remarkable Tudor-style building and it amazed me how it’s been falling into disrepair...it was disappointing.”

Although no firm plans are in place for the renovation, Romein said he hopes to set an example by including “green energy” and affordable housing features.

“That could include rain water retention to flush drains and utilizing the building’s large roof space for solar power to run electricity and heat water,” Romein said.

“People are becoming more aware of the need for these energy-saving features and we would like to see these issues become a focus for south-end business.”

Bringing the Lynwood up to modern standards of design and safety will not be easy. Lead, asbestos and foundation issues are just a few of the problems attributed the 1930s vintage building, Romein said.

The city has also largely capped the building’s growth potential, making it hard to add to the structure’s limited apartment section. However, this has not stopped the couple from talking with the city about offering affordable housing there.

The new owners will be working with Bainbridge architect Peter O’Connor who was most recently involved in designing Vineyard Lane development in Winlsow. O’Connor, a long-time friend of Romein’s, will help plan any structural or aesthetic changes to the building.

“We’re looking at a wide range of projects and associated costs right now,” Romein said. “But first we need to go back to the beginning, create drawings of the building, identify problem areas and talk to commercial tenants about their needs before we can do anything.”

Romein estimates that it will be at least six months before they are ready to move forward with renovations, and that the process would aim to reflect the visions of the community and business members.

“I really want to say how much I support the businesses down there,” Romein said. “The theatre and the Tree House Cafe especially have really helped to keep the area as a thriving cultural gathering place.

“Hopefully, this will be a way to give back and get involved in that community.”

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