“Suspendlet” coming to second story of Strain Building; two more pedlets planned downtown
If you’ve spent much time on Central Avenue lately, you may have noticed some major changes to the exterior of the Strain Building at the corner of Central and 4th Street South.
Jason Madill bought the building last year and is rebranding it to Four Ten Central, since Strain and Sears have long since left the building.
He and his crew have removed the 1970s era metal slats along the front and side exteriors to reveal the original windows facing Central Avenue. Many of the windows along the 4th Street side won’t be restored as actual windows since during one of the many interior renovations over the last century, ductwork was installed along that wall.
“I never thought I would own this building,” Madill said. “But when I did, I wanted to see what was under there.”
The crew found original glazed fired terracotta and more copper than they expected.
“That was pretty exciting that we found it,” Tanner Reichert said.
Reichert, a member of Madill’s crew and manager of the building, said it turned out that previous building owners had painted over the terracotta, which actually preserved the original material.
Once it’s damaged, it’s hard to restore, Madill said.
Kole Verley said they had to remove four layers of paint on the copper, which was a time-consuming, tedious project, after cleaning up the pigeon poop.
“We knew the copper was there, but we didn’t know what condition it would be in,” Madill said, adding that he hasn’t yet pursued formal historic designation for the building, but is working to do as much historic preservation as possible.
“This is a massive undertaking,” Madill said.
The terracotta ends where the Sears addition connects at the back of the building, but Madill said they’ll paint that area to blend it with the original material. They also painted the slats around the parking garage a copper color to tie it in with the copper on the front of the building. The crew painted all 550 18-foot slats by hand.
Madill also owns and restored the Pennant Building at 325 1st Ave. N. His work there was recognized by the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission earlier this year.
The front of the building facing Central Avenue was originally two stories of windows that had been broken into three levels to make space for additional displays.
Madill is largely restoring that store front, but with a tweak. One section of the second floor will have four large garage doors that will open to let in fresh air, similar to the doors at Fire Artisan Pizza. There will also be a balcony, extending nine feet over the sidewalk, to match the existing canopy.
“I think when people see the exterior, people will see how cool it is and it will attract more tenants,” Madill said.
Madill and the new second floor tenants are keeping mum for now, but one will be a coffeehouse.
The balcony is being dubbed a “suspendlet” and has been approved for grant funding through the Business Improvement District’s pedlet program.
Joan Redeen, community director for the BID, said that the suspendlet would be a bit different from the other pedlets, but would receive the same $7,500 grant as the other three recipients.
Enbar has already opened their pedlet and received a BID grant.
The next two coming include the Celtic Cowboy on 1st Avenue South and one grant went to John Williams, owner of Burger Bunker/Big Bang Pizza/JJs Bakery, but he was still determining which location to use for the pedlet, Redeen said.
Since bought the building last year, some tenants, such as Joseph Eve CPAs have left the downtown building.
But Madill said he’s added eight new tenants and the goal is to have the exterior “looking pretty darn good” by winter, though every time they think they’ve uncovered everything, they find something more.
Reichert said at the end of June that they’d just found that all the windows were trimmed with copper.
“It’s cool to keep finding new stuff,” he said.
Madill said he’s hoping to bring the building back to what it was and “make it great for the community.”
“I think we’re on the cusp of something great downtown,” Madill said.