Loft Apartments in Former Pegues Building Nearly Complete

Contractor Dave Hill said he hasn’t minded when residents wander into the former Pegues building on North Main Street to see what’s going on inside and to relay memories of being in the former department store during its heyday.

It’s just that he’s a little crunched for time right now.

Conversion of the historic four-story building into loft apartments, with ground floor retail space, has a targeted May 1 completion.

“It may be a day or two after,” developer Brian Richardson, of Salina, said two weeks ago of the property receiving an occupancy permit.

He’s leased seven of the building’s 17 future apartments, and is taking names for more, said Richardson, CEO of Occupational Performance Corporation and owner of development company RD LLC.

“We’re getting close” to finishing, said Richardson, who was visiting the property at 208 N. Main last week.

The top floor of the historic four-story, 38,000-square-foot building is ready. The third floor is mostly completed, with sticky notes on the wall noting minor tasks to be done.

The second, or mezzanine, floor had crews going full bore, with a seeming lot yet to be done.

Plans for the ground floor are to rough in spaces and clean it up, in order to customize finished spaces once tenants are under contract. Richardson said he has no contracts for the retail and office space signed.

In a quick walk-through of the building, Richardson pointed out many of the unique features that once served as a premier department store for Hutchinson and the region from 1930 until 1998.

Because the building is historic, making it eligible for historic tax credits, Richardson had to leave numerous elements of the original building visible despite its new use.

For example, just inside the front door is the original store elevator that will be available for tenants to use. Inside the elevator, above the door, is a lighted panel showing the shops once located on each floor.

The project included adding a separate two-door entrance for tenants south of the store’s original main doors. The entrance will be wired with a keycard system for resident security. A community mailbox will also be installed just inside.

The apartments are all single bedroom, but all have open floor plans and range in size from 800 to 1,200 square feet. They will lease for market rates, ranging from between $775 to $1,100 per month, Richardson said.

The apartments are finished in earth tones, with onyx counters in the kitchen and bath and pendant lighting over the large kitchen counters.

One apartment in the fourth floor lofts that once housed Pegues’ “climate-controlled fur room” still has the door for what was basically a large walk-in safe where residents would bring in their furs to be stored during the summer.

The safe itself is gone, but the combination lock door remains.

There is another safe on the third floor, once a large bank vault, that remains intact – only now as a large walk in closet. The lock is disabled, Richardson said.

“We couldn’t get it out,” Richardson said. “We tried for a few minutes.”

The third floor will also feature a small central exercise room that will hold three pieces of equipment.

Apartment’s on the building’s east wall feature large, frosted glass windows in their original metal frames – manufactured in Kansas City, Mo. – though he had at least one set of windows in each apartment replaced with clear glass, so tenants can see out.

A pair of apartments on the building’s west side have the intact cubed glass blocks once visible from Main Street, that are now covered by the metal façade featuring the large wheat sculptures added in 1956. They still allow in some light, Richardson noted.

All apartments have walk-in showers, walk-in closets and washer and dryer hookups in a closet.

A large freight elevator on the back of the building also remains operational, allowing residents to easily move furniture in.

There are six loft units on the fourth floor of various sizes and eight on the third floor, averaging about 1,000 square feet each. The second floor, which is a mezzanine floor that partially looks out over the open ground floor, will house the last three apartments, all about 800 square feet, as well as extra storage space for residents and an office space for the building manager.

There are six different size areas on the ground floor for office or retail space. Several potential tenants are reviewing leases for smaller office spaces, but he’s still working on leasing the larger retail space, which is close to 4,000 square feet.

“I don’t know that I have anything I’d say would be perfect” for that space, Richardson said. “We’ve got flexibility to do anything from restaurant to retail, whether its clothing or sporting goods or cell phones.”

The project, which Richardson estimated before it began, including demolition, would be in excess of $1.4 million. He said it ran “a little bit” over budget. The largest single expense, he said, was for fire suppression.

“It was certainly something within guideline that we can handle,” he said. Extra costs went into replacing some windows “that were not in as good of shape as we’d hoped,” replacing some flooring that was rotted and redoing the entire roof.

“I’m pleased with the final result,” Richardson said. “It’s been a fun project.”

“We benefited from a good working experience with the city and Jim Seitnater of downtown,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the community. My contractor who works with me is from Salina. We’ve finished a project in Topeka and are working on one in Wichita. He shared with me the cooperation on this project of city and fire inspectors was unlike any other. It was much, much easier to do. The end product is great.”