With the renovation of three old office buildings currently underway, downtown Sudbury is slowly turning into a residential neighbourhood.

Despite the construction mess, it’s a welcome sight for Susan Thompson, head of Sudbury Downtown Village Development Corporation and long-time advocate for the area.

When she heard the 100-year-old Muirhead's building might be torn down and turned into a parking lot, she put together a group of investors and bought it.

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Susan Thompson, head of Sudbury's Downtown Village Development Corporation, is an advocate for and and investor in the residential renaissance in the area. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

"It just seemed to be the last straw downtown," Thompson said.

"This building could not come down, in my opinion. So, I guess I took the leap of faith and put my money where my mouth was."

Thompson has rented out some office space and said she hopes to put in loft apartments as well.

The restoration is running into the millions of dollars.

"Following your heart and not losing money at the same time has been a major challenge," she said.

Residential revolution

There are several other downtown office buildings also getting re-done, including the four-storey Mackey Building.

Manager Jeff Reford said they're planning on creating 48 apartments.

"Something along the lines of Key-West-in-Toronto-meets-Sudbury," he said.

"We're hoping to get the young urban professionals."

Work is also underway to renovate an office building on Lisgar Street, where owner Paul D'Aloisio is planning to target students.

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Downtown building owner Paul D'Aloisio is planning to market to students after he renovates a former office space into 50 apartments. (Erik White/CBC)

He's building 50 apartment units, which could be home to as many as 70 students.

While this is an untested market, D'Aloisio said he isn't worried.

"Well sure, it's a risk," he said.

"Any investment like this is a risk. But it's warranted. The demand seems to be there. We've had a lot of interest already and we haven't even started to bring in applications."

All the developers are hoping most of their tenants will come from the new architecture school and are aiming to be ready in the spring, when students start looking for somewhere to stay.