Former Gay Bar Undergoing Renovation to Become Housing


July 14, 2017
By Thomas Grillo/The Daily Item

The shuttered home of what’s been called the Bay State’s oldest gay bar will soon have a new lease on life: a $2.2 million apartment house.

Fran’s Place closed last fall after more than three decades on lower Washington Street as a safe haven for gay patrons.

Last fall, the 20,148-square-foot, three story building was purchased by 776 Washington Street LLC for $297,500. The entity is owned by Omar Guerrero, who once managed Omar & Oscar Jewelry of Lynn in Central Square.

Guerrero declined to comment.

But filings with the city’s Inspectional Services Department revealed he is seeking to build 14 one-bedroom apartments on the two upper floors while keeping the 5,000-square-foot former bar as commercial space.

The LLC borrowed $1.75 million from the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, the state’s development bank, for the renovation.

James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development & Industrial Corp., (EDIC) the city’s development bank, said he’s met with Guerrero and supports the project.

Image of the front door of former Fran's Place Bar

“He’s putting more than a dozen market-rate units in that section of the city,” he said. “And when he’s done, it will look great.”

Charles Gaeta, executive director of Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development, whose office provided Guerrero with a $20,000 planning grant, said he’s excited about the project.

“The city is expected to invest more than $150,000 in new sidewalks and trees in that area,” he said. “It will dovetail nicely with our nearby Gateway Residences project.”   

Last year, the Gateway Residences on Washington broke ground, the first housing development to benefit from a $100 million state fund to create workforce housing.

The 71-unit mixed-income housing complex is a collaboration of Neighborhood Development Associates of Lynn and Boston-based Hub Holdings LLC.

Gateway Residences will feature a five-story, wood-frame building with 18 one-bedroom units, 46 two-bedrooms and seven three-bedrooms. Eight units will be market-rate. The project also will contain a common room, fitness center, laundry rooms and other common tenant spaces.

“We’re excited, said Gaeta. “That whole area is being rejuvenated and there’s more on the way.”

Thomas Grillo can be reached at

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