NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — A historic building in downtown New Bedford will soon have a new purpose.

The Moby Dick Chandler building on Union Street will be restored as part of a $27 million project and will house both apartment units and retail stores.

Officials said the 45 new apartments will be modern and energy-efficient, and some will be specifically designed for handicapped accessibility.

Rent prices for the new complex have not yet been disclosed. New Bedford Development Corporation President Steve Beauregard said it will depend on the unit and the tenant’s income.

“Housing will be more attainable for folks who need it,” he added. “And that’s what this is about. It has housing at a number of different income levels.”

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The project has been in the works for several years, having been delayed by the pandemic and supply chain issues. It’s now expected to be finished by January 2025.

Developers hope the project not only adds more affordable housing to the area, but also promotes tourism.

“This corner is a key piece of property in downtown New Bedford and has, and is, in the heart of the world-renowned Historic District,” Beauregard said. “These buildings will be the gateway to visitors and guests traveling from the historic district to the upper Union Street restaurant in shops.”

City officials said more housing is on the way and they have several other plans being developed. According to Mayor Jon Mitchell, if nothing is done, the housing crisis will only get worse, as the city’s population is expected to rise more than four percent by 2040.

The city also wants to make sure the new units being built are affordable. Mitchell’s “Building New Bedford Plan” says that half of all renters and 30% of homeowners in the city are “housing cost-burdened,” meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing.