After almost four years vacant, a buyer plans to turn the the decades-old Downtown Mall at 210 E. High St. into condos and retail space.
Sitting in prime real-estate on Jefferson City's East High Street across from High Street Pub, the building housed JCPenney until it moved to Capital Mall in 1978.
Developer Ryan Gilmore said he bought the property for $1 but plans to make large investment in the property as he renovates the 36,000-square-foot building.
"This is for the betterment of the community," Gilmore said. "If nobody does anything right now, it will go (unused). That's how bad it was getting."
The final Downtown Mall tenants vacated the building in July 2014, but a potential buyer at the time backed out at the last minute. Since then, the building has sat vacant.
Gilmore owns Ashland-based Cameo Construction. His company currently is renovating the Staybridge Suites hotel at 805 N. Keene St. in Columbia. Gilmore said he's excited to take on a project of this size and his friend Derek Eilers plans to later become a partner.
Parts of the building date back to the late 1800s and mid-to-late 1900s, Gilmore said. He first plans to remove the metal facade that covers the front of the building and repair the original brickwork.
The building's roof needs to be replaced and contains asbestos that needs to be removed. Gilmore, a roofer by trade, plans to spend $200,000 adding a new roof. Four rooftop patios may be added to flat sections of the roof to create event spaces with views of downtown Jefferson City.
About six levels make up the front and back of the building, Gilmore said. In upper levels on the front of the building, he imagines he could build six condos, with 10-12 apartments in the back.
Gilmore said several boutique stores have expressed interest in leasing space once renovations finish. Tenants could move into the space as early as this fall or winter, he said. In all, Gilmore said, seven tenants already have expressed interest in leasing space.
Parking problems always plagued the building under previous owners. Minimal street parking exists on High Street in front of the building. An entry to a parking garage could be built in an alley behind the building, and the bottom level could be used as a parking garage, he said.
Gilmore said he had to pay $22,000 in back taxes on the property before he could get the deed. As of now, he said, he has invested about $40,000 in the project.
Fully fixing the building would cost between $3 million and $5 million, Gilmore said. At the very least, he hopes to invest about $1 million, depending on the size of loan he can get.
"Seventy-five percent of the building is in great shape," he said. "The building is structurally sound."
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