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$24.3M in renovations proposed for 2 downtown warehouses

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A local development team is proposing a $10 million historical renovation of a four-story brick building at 106 S.W. Seventh St. in Des Moines. The building was originally occupied by Carpenter Paper Co., whose name can still be seen across the top of the building. A photo below shows the building as it looks today. Architectural rendering by Substance Architecture

Two downtown warehouses that for decades served as storage facilities for a local insurance company will be redeveloped for office space and entertainment uses under a proposal that will be considered Tuesday by Des Moines’ Urban Design Review Board.

Developer Tim Rypma is proposing a $24.3 million project that includes the historical renovation of a four-story structure at 106 S.W. Seventh St., commonly known as the Carpenter Paper Co. warehouse building. He is also proposing the conversion of a warehouse at 113 S.W. Eighth St., known as the Lortex Building, into space for a restaurant, tavern or other entertainment uses.

Both buildings had been owned by Employers Mutual Casualty Co., which in April sold them to Clocktower Wolf LLC and 3101 Ingersoll LLC, entities managed by Abe Wolf. The sale price of the properties was $3.25 million. Rypma is an agent for Buyers Realty Co., operated by Wolf.

The development team is seeking federal and state historic tax credits for the renovation of the Carpenter Paper warehouse, which was constructed in 1918 and includes about 46,816 square feet of space.

The Carpenter Paper Co. was established in 1890 in Omaha by Isaac White Carpenter, according to the University of Delaware library. The company was Omaha’s first paper company, which sold a variety of stationery products, envelopes and cardboard. The company established branches in Des Moines, Kansas City, Denver and Salt Lake City. By 1937, it operated 29 distribution centers in 19 states. The company was sold in 1961 to a larger paper company.

Property records don’t indicate when EMC purchased the Carpenter Paper building, which EMC used for document storage space.

Proposed building improvements include the restoration of windows that have been blocked with bricks or other materials; tuckpointing and other masonry repairs; replacement of heating and cooling systems; and possibly replacement of exterior materials on the building’s north facade, according to information provided to the board.

The proposed project “is an adaptive reuse of otherwise lightly used warehouse space, putting the visible property into a more productive use,” according to a city staff report. The project could spur interest in development of surface parking lots in the area, according to the report.

Site improvements are expected to include the reconstruction of parking lots, landscaping and streetscaping. In addition, electrical charging stations will be installed and, if materials are available, all-electric heat equipment will be installed in the building, according to information provided to the board.

The construction budget for the Carpenter Paper Co. building is estimated at $10 million. Construction is expected to begin in the fall and be completed by late 2023.

A tenant for the building has not yet been identified.

Renderings of the lobby area show exposed brick and wood beams and columns. Similar designs are proposed for the office and conference rooms.

The remodeling of the two-story building at 113 S.W. Eighth St. is expected to begin at a later date. The building, constructed in 1970, includes 19,520 square feet of space.

Financial assistance for the Carpenter Paper Co. building is proposed at up to $3.8 million and would be generated from tax increment financing incentives, information provided to the board shows. Financial assistance for the Lortex Building is proposed at up to $975,000. The grants represent 19.8% of project costs.

The total current value of both properties is $2.39 million, according to the Polk County assessor. When the construction projects are completed, the properties’ value is estimated to be a total $13.1 million, information given to the board shows.

The Urban Design Review Board will discuss the proposed Carpenter Paper Co. building project at its 7:30 a.m. meeting on Tuesday in the boardroom of the Richard A. Clark Municipal Service Center, 1551 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

A warehouse building at 113 S.W. Eighth St. in Des Moines is proposed to be converted into space for a restaurant, tavern or other entertainment uses. A timeline for the renovation of the building, which is adjacent to the Carpenter Paper Co. building, is not yet known. Architectural rendering by Substance Architecture

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