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PROJECT UPDATE: Argonne Apartment Building


Restoration work has begun on the Argonne Apartment Building, located at 1723 Grand Ave., on the western edge of downtown Des Moines. Photo special to the Business Record
WHAT: Argonne Apartment Building restoration
WHERE: 1723 Grand Ave., Des Moines
PROJECT VALUE: Estimated $8 million renovation
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Estes Construction, West Des Moines
ARCHITECT: Goche Inclusions LLC, Ames

 One of the most interesting finds by workers doing demolition work at the Argonne Apartment Building was trusses made of one-by-six lumber pieces that were laminated together, said Jackie Nickolaus, vice president of development services at Benchmark Real Estate Group in West Des Moines.

“Our architect and general contractor said that they had never seen anything like it before,” Nickolaus said. “It was a really cool find, and hopefully it’s something that one of our future tenants in that space will appreciate.”

Joe Cordaro, principal of Benchmark Real Estate and president of Jarcor LLC, bought the Argonne in 2013 for $870,000. The structure, built in 1915, includes a four-story brick building and a one-story annex. The building is undergoing a historical renovation that when completed will include 45 apartment units, either one-bedroom or studio-sized. Most will rent for less than $900 a month, Cordaro has said.

“We’re optimistic that we’re at a price point and location that we’ll be able to lease up the residential units,” Nickolaus said.

Much of the ground level will be commercial space; however, two bays along 18th Street will be converted into six apartment units.

Crews have been doing demolition work at the building for several months in preparation for restoration work. As plaster and wallboard were torn out, “we found there was more structural damage than we anticipated,” Nickolaus said.

The pandemic has not slowed construction work at the building, she said. Apartment units are small, allowing only two to three workers in them at a time. Workers are regularly asked whether they’ve been exposed to the viral coronavirus; those who have are not allowed on the job site, she said.

“We’ve overemphasized that if there’s any doubt, we keep workers off the site so that we don’t have to close it down,” Nickolaus said.

Construction work is expected to be complete by November, she said.

The building “has lived a hard life,” Nickolaus said. “It is really great to go in and shore it up and make the improvements so it will last another 100 years.”

– Kathy A. Bolten

Workers inside the Argonne Apartment Building. Photo special to the Business Record

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: $8 million restoration planned for Argonne building on western edge of downtown Des Moines

A Commercial Real Estate Weekly feature in which we update the status of projects underway in the Greater Des Moines area. Want to include an update about your project or suggest a project to include? Email: kathybolten@bpcdm.com

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