Broadway building clean up nearly complete

By: 
CHARLIE DENISON
Reporter
Friday, June 29, 2018

Montana Preservation Alliance Restoration Director Dustin Kalanick takes a walk through the Broadway Apartment building Wednesday afternoon. He said he continues to be amazed by the structural integrity of the building and remains hopeful MPA will find a buyer to renovate the place. 

Photo by Charlie Denison

 

Taking a look inside the Broadway Apartment building Wednesday afternoon, Montana Preservation Alliance Executive Director Chere Jiusto was beaming, her smile noticeable despite the darkness.

MPA purchased the 107-year-old building from Michael McGough in October of 2015 with a goal to clean it up and get it ready for a buyer who would put the time and money into making it a space for 18-20 apartments. Thanks to financial assistance from the Brownfields project and much work by Oldenburg Construction, MPA was able to remove most of the asbestos and lead paint in the flooring and pipes, as well as eliminating the pigeons and pigeon droppings.

  The clean up is nearly complete and a dialogue has started with a realtor. Considering the improvement of the building since the MPA took over, Jiusto said she’s optimistic someone will come along and move the building forward.

“It’d be great to see more history restored in Lewistown, not to mention more housing made available,” Jiusto said. “It’s a beautiful building.”

Jiusto and MPA Restoration Director Dustin Kalanick came to town from Helena Tuesday, leading a group of more than 25 people around the building as part of Snowy Mountain Development Corporation and Kansas State University’s Brownfields Roundtable Resource Workshop. They toured it again Wednesday with former City Planner Duane Ferdinand and Gene Meier.

“I think the clean up has made a big improvement on the marketability of this property,” Ferdinand said. “It makes quite a difference.”

Jiusto said she couldn’t be happier with peoples’ reactions upon seeing the interior.

“We are receiving a lot of good feedback,” she said. “People are impressed with the stability of the building and its potential to be redeveloped.”

Although Jiusto is encouraged, it hasn’t been an easy process, as this is the first building MPA purchased in their 31-year history.

“We’ve been putting this together step by step with grant funding, elbow grease and support from the community,” Kalanick said. “Our biggest challenge is probably impatience. We want to get people in here.”

At the same time, Kalanick admits the project has come a long way, which is why he and Jiusto remain upbeat about someone coming along to take advantage of the opportunity. After all, the Broadway Apartments are located just a block off Main Street, which could be appealing to potential residents.

“If purchased, we hope the renovation moves along quickly,” Kalanick said. “The layout is quite ideal.”

Kalanick added buying a historical building also has a lot of sentimental value.

“This building has a lot of character and a rich history,” he said. “It just needs new infrastructure and modern comfort.”

City Planner Cathy Barta is also hopeful about the building’s future and is particularly encouraged by MPA’s progress.

“I’ve always been curious about the Broadway building,” she said. “I’d pass it when I’d drop off my son at Small Wonder Daycare and got the impression from looking at the exterior that the building was ready to crumble, but looking at the inside Tuesday I was very impressed. It has a much greater structural integrity than I thought. You can really see the potential.”

Such a perception is not uncommon, as Jiusto and Kalanick said they are familiar with others having the same concerns, especially after a drainage issue and lack of maintenance by the previous owner contributed to the chimney collapsing a few years ago. 

These concerns aren’t a surprise, as MPA has stayed quiet about what they’ve been doing with the interior. It’s a time-consuming project that’s required a number of repairs. Unfortunately, the original goal of having the building ready for occupancy by the end of 2018 can’t be met, but the building is once again in sound condition. As far as when it will become apartments again, Kalanick said he’d rather not guess.

“We are sensitive to the fact that outside developers have come in and promised a lot over and over,” he said. “We want to be respectful of that and not come to the community with promises. Instead, we want to come to them with our achievements, however great or modest they may be. Slowly but surely, as exposure gets broader, more people will see what’s possible with this building.”

Jiusto said the building is in fine shape. Most of the building is intact and ready to begin an extensive modernization.

“One day Broadway Apartments won’t be something people are talking about,” Jiusto said. “It will just be a place where people live.”

Kalanick and Jiusto plan to return in August for more clean up. They also are looking into inviting the public for a walkthrough.

“Our plan is to bring the beauty back and allow the building to speak for itself,” Jiusto said.

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