Redevelopment Authority approves downtown renovation project
A historic renovation of an 1892 downtown building is in the works. The Empire Block is slated for a makeover to its former glory starting next summer. It is expected to be complete in 2017. The city's Redevelopment Authority approved a developme...
A historic renovation of an 1892 downtown building is in the works.
The Empire Block is slated for a makeover to its former glory starting next summer. It is expected to be complete in 2017.
The city’s Redevelopment Authority approved a development agreement Thursday with Empire Block LLC to help make the renovation a reality.
It’s a fairly significant project for the former Luyre Furniture building, said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director. The city will grant $200,000 from the economic development fund to make the project possible.
The project will be done under tax credits for historic restoration, a program run by the National Park Service, said Mark Hubbard, a principal with Empire Block LLC. Without the city’s participation in the project, he said he would not be able to get the tax credits for the project.
The building was originally constructed in 1892 with four businesses on the first floor and a mix of commercial and residential space on the upper two floors.
"Our plan is to convert the upper two floors to market-rate apartments, seven per floor … and commercial space on the main level," Hubbard said.
Exactly what types of businesses may use the space hasn’t been determined, but Hubbard said he’s been in discussion with several entities that could use the commercial space. Hubbard said retail, restaurant and women-owned business clusters are all potential tenants in the lower level.
He said the awning and stone face on the lower level of the building would be removed, restoring its original brick and sandstone.
"We don’t believe they removed the brick; they just went right over the top of it, but nonetheless, it’s going to take quite a bit of cleanup," Hubbard said.
Hubbard said the budget for the project is about $4.3 million dollars and fits in with the city’s long-term plan to redevelop the downtown.
"I think it’s a great project for down," Serck said.