Reporter’s Notebook: Another look inside the Heer’s building

Emily Letterman, Features Editor

It’s been 10 months since I’ve seen the inside of the Heer’s building downtown. My, how things have changed.

Media, city officials and local leaders got our first look at construction progress to the 100-year-old building during a media tour this morning. Instead of a gaping hole running through multiple floors and into the basement, there sits the beginnings of a lobby.

Before: The lobby during the June 20 media tour and groundbreaking.

Before: The lobby during the June 20, 2014, media tour and groundbreaking.

After: The lobby this morning.

After: The lobby this morning.

The barren third floor that greeted us last June is filled with apartment units and the shell of a theater room for residents.

Before

Before

After

After

theaterplan

Jim Nichols’ Dalmark Development Group LLC already is 70 percent through project construction and expects to move in its first residents Aug. 1. So, why do the tour at 70 percent and not 100 percent? Nichols says the community was clamoring to see inside and he’s proud to show off the roughly $16 million dollar redevelopment. Heer’s Luxury Living has 140 individuals on a waiting list and began the tenant application process last week. Nichols reports about eight people already have put down deposits and signed leases.

The nine-story tower and four-story annex have myriad designs that fit within the historic building, but all are either one bedroom or two, nothing larger.

After dividing into groups, 13 of us crammed in the now working elevators and headed to the third floor. We toured a one-bedroom unit. At roughly 1,000 square feet, our tour guide Jarrett Cooper, principal architect for Roseman & Associates, led us through the $1,095 a month space.

roomplan

2kitchen

On the west side of the building, the kitchen comes complete with a view of the parking garage, and oddly enough today, my car. Resident parking will be $25 monthly in the garage or $50 a month in the underground lot.

On the west side of the building, the kitchen comes with a view of the parking garage, and, oddly enough today, my car. Resident parking will be $25 monthly in the garage or $50 a month in the underground lot.

On the seventh floor, we toured a two-bedroom, two-bath unit facing Park Central Square.

Imagine watching a concert in the square from your apartment window.

Imagine watching a concert in the square from your apartment window.

This corner spot is prime for Christmas parade watching.

This corner spot is prime for Christmas parade watching.

The higher we got, the larger things became. This seventh-floor kitchen has the island of every home cook’s dreams.

4kitchenalt

Just think of all the room for baking

Just think of all the room for baking

Using $5.6 million in historic tax credits on the project has led to some design restrictions. For example, rooftop terraces can’t extend to the edge of the building and rules also dictated designers preserve original lines of sight.

The original window was kept in place with this new wall working its way around.

The original window was kept in place with this new wall working its way around.

Not all bedrooms were lucky enough to get a window, however. As we made our way to the ninth-floor penthouse suite – a two-story unit with bedrooms on the bottom and kitchen, grandroom and patio on the top – architects had to get creative. Cooper said some rooms have an electronic skylight.

skylight

Ascending the stairs, we see a much larger kitchen.

stairsstairsup

9kitchen

Even more baking possibilities.

9terrace

This ninth-floor penthouse view will set you back $2,100 a month.

This ninth-floor penthouse view will set you back $2,100 a month.

Nichols says the tradesmen are working their way down the building, ending in the lobby. He’s had commercial interest from three restaurants and a couple retail shops, but nothing definitive yet.

As we exited, I could still see signs of the building I toured nearly a year ago. Graffiti remains in some areas and the original brick can be seen behind the new metal wall framework.

graffiti

I’m not sure what it means, but this was by far my favorite piece.

I’m not sure what it means, but this was by far my favorite piece.

brick

I blogged about the infamous lettering on the building’s tower before, and now, Cooper tells us the tower is destined to remain empty. It once housed a water suppression system for building owners who feared fire after the original Heer’s department store burned to the ground just across the square.

“We tried many iterations of design to get units up there. But it was cost-prohibitive,” says Cooper, who works in the architecture firm’s St. Louis office.

Listening to Nichols talk following the tour, his passion for downtown is evident.

“This building is a testimony to the prosperity of Springfield and downtown,” he says. “We are excited to see it complete.”

Jim

As a downtown lover myself, me too, Jim, me too.

I couldn’t resist this hardhat selfie with Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson.

I couldn’t resist this hardhat selfie with Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson.

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