What's next for historic building?
Friday, November 16, 2012 10:00 AM
After seeing eye-popping features in the former tack factory on West Second Street, people participating in a workshop Thursday said the site would be suitable for a community theater, office suites, sports center, restaurants and food shops.
They made their choices by placing colored dots on idea lists formed after public tours. By the placement of their colored dots they also said to forget condos, a brew pub or microbrewery, a business incubator or live music venue.
The site has about 60,000 square feet of space in several buildings. The spaces that got the most comments during the tours were a roof and a basement. The basement of the building at Second and Cragmont streets has block-long limestone walls each with four arched openings. The long walls divide the basement into three spaces. At the top of one of the large buildings is a solid row of west-facing windows, allowing natural light to flood the room.
Other features that had visitors talking included huge vertical beams, some 16-inches square; an 1860s house; metal roofs; and the labels on inventory storage shelves that showed the vast variety of tacks, brads and other fasteners that were produced at the site from 1917 to 2007.
The first building on the site, built in 1884, was a warehouse for the Johnson starch company located a few blocks west. After the tack factory's original site burned in 1916, the factory moved to Second Street.
The factory, city preservation planner Camille Fife said, has "really beautiful detailing for an industrial building."
Just as eye-catching but on the negative side were big patches of machine oil that dripped down onto the limestone walls from the production areas above; and oil- soaked wood floors; sand has recently been put down to absorb some of it.
The site several years ago had an environmental study that concluded there were no serious pollution problems. But the site is perceived as having problems, so the Environmental Protection Agency was asked to look again, Fife said. The environmental studies are not finished.
The EPA's Technical Assistance to Brownfields program is helping identify suitable, economically good ideas for reuse of the former tack factory, whose first building was built in 1884. The Technical Assistance group paid for the program Thursday.
After public tours, participants were divided into small groups at the library to come up with ideas. Later in the day, people attending a public session at the library were given the colored dots.
The color-dotted lists will be the basis for the next step, which will be to picture some of the uses in drawings and to study the economic suitability of the ideas. That work will be done by a team that is part of the Technical Assistance to Brownfields program.
Blase Leven, program coordinator for the Technical Assistance to Brownfields program at Kansas State University, led the workshop. Rebecca Rossi, the assistant director at the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development at Illinois State University, will study the economic feasibility of ideas. Pat Crawford, associate professor of landscape architecture at Michigan State University, will draw what the tack factory could look like with the various ideas for uses. All three were at the workshop.
After the workshop, the talk continued at a reception at West Street Gallery sponsored by Economic Development Partners of Jefferson County and MainSource Bank.
The owner of the Tower site, Glen Perkins, approved having his building be the topic of the workshop, Fife said. He had intended to attend, but was unable to due to a death in his family.