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Eagles wait in wings to move

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The Eagles have not yet landed at their new home, but they are getting closer to a move.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 741 will soon leave its historic location at 217 Washington St. for a new home just up the road.

Norman “Bud” Seymour, a trustee for the local organization, said there have been a few bumps in the road since the group purchased the old Wonder Bread storefront at 930 Washington St. late last year.

“We had never done anything like this before, so it’s taking a little longer that we expected. But we hope to be ready to move in by the end of the summer,” Seymour said.

The Eagles purchased the Wonder Bread building for $525,000 and have been working through the permitting process to renovate the 9,300-square-foot location.

The organization is awaiting final approval from city officials to begin the upgrades needed for the move.

The price of repairs has escalated, and renovations that were originally expected to be in the $250,000 range will probably cost twice that much, Seymour said. A major expense is the installation of a sprinkler system, which had not been required because of a grandfather clause in state law.

The Eagles own the building where the group, which now has nearly 800 members, has been meeting since the early 1940s.

Proceeds from sale of the $990,000 downtown location, which is listed below market value, is expected to defray renovation costs.

“We hate to give it up, but we don’t have parking. And for an organization like ours, that’s something we need,” Seymour said. “We’ve lowered the price a few times, and we have had some interest; but we haven’t been able to sell it yet.”

There is also no place for smokers to congregate just outside the current lodge, which is located on the second floor of the building.

Breeden Commercial Real Estate, which sold the Wonder Bread site to the Eagles, is handling the listing for its current location as well.

“A 22,000-square-foot location in downtown doesn’t come up that often, so it really is a great opportunity for a business looking to locate downtown,” Breeden’s Tara Board said.

Seymour said repairs and renovations at the new site are expected to take about three or four months once city officials give the go-ahead to begin the work.

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