What once was a historical building has now turned into a modern day living quarter, as Second and Main Loft Project Manager Darwin Harrison gave an update on the building at a Rotary meeting Thursday, Nov. 14 at Sirloin Stockade.

The building will be used for living and retail, with the living spaces also serving as workspaces. There are nine spaces and five are currently under lease. Harrison hopes the building will open around Dec. 15.

While the building is now seeing a brighter future, Harrison said that wasn’t always the case, as it was a tough project in its beginning stages.

“We knew what we were getting into, but at the same time, it’s an old building that was kind of run down,” he said. “It was in pretty rough shape.”

Harrison said that the previous owners wanted to redevelop it into a photography studio and live above it. After one of the owners passed away, the other couldn’t keep up with the renovations.

“The building fell into disrepair,” he said. “ The roof started leaking more and more, so there’s severe water damage and the façade on the south building started to collapse. That’s when we got it.”

Harrison said he was scared when he and development group Public Sketch, who is working on the project, got ownership of the building because of the renovations that were needed, but felt they could do the job.

Issues such as getting new windows, keeping historical tile and obtaining an engineer suitable for the job also arose. Harrison said finding an engineer was not an easy feat.

“We wanted to use a lot of local people, so we found a structural engineer and it was very odd because he didn’t want to stand near certain parts,” he said. “There was one interior column on the side of the [damaged] façade that started to collapse and they had just put plywood around it and it wasn’t holding.”

That’s when the engineer, who Harrison hired, lost interest in the project.

“I asked him, ‘so this stuff can be fixed, right?’” he said. “His response was, ‘well, I don’t know, that’s beyond my pay grade.’”

It was at that point that Harrison decided to find another engineer who had more experience with renovating older buildings.

“When it came to funding and finding investors, a lot of people didn’t see it,” he said. “They’d say ‘I don’t think this is a good idea, it’s going to cost too much’ or ‘who would want to live near the train tracks?’ But we were able to find financing.”

The overall budget is $2.2,000,000 and Harrison said they are currently working on bring things up to code, like the building’s sprinkler system. They’re also working on getting tax credits, and Harrison expects the group to get back 45% of spent funds.

Harrison also said he feels he is working with a good group, and is thankful for the city’s support.

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