Two old buildings in two different states

A friend (and the Jr. High pastor at my church) has a contract on a building in downtown Siloam Springs. He hopes to rent out spaces or slots to designers and multi-media people on the main floor and live on the second floor with his wife.

My father is considering a building in Grand Island, Nebraska. He’s actually been looking at real estate in the city’s downtown area for more than two years. Nothing has really caught his fancy until this summer — though this is partly related to commensurate interest from other family members.

My wife and I love the idea of living in a downtown area, in a historic building with all of the great architectural details in such a space — high ceilings, great moldings, brick walls. We like the idea of trying to live out a lifestyle in a more pedestrian culture and being in the center of town happenings.

What’s interesting is how different these buildings are. The one my father is interested in is in great shape (though many he’s looked have not been) and is listed at a bargain-basement $8.42 a square foot. Each of three levels boasts 5,500 square feet. There is a renter on the main floor with more than four years remaining on his lease. The second floor would likely be converted into three living spaces, ranging in size from (roughly) 1,300 to 1,800 square feet. The unfinished basement is clean, dry and from what I could tell in great structural condition. At this point, one of the most significant drawbacks is the building’s lack of an elevator.

The building in Siloam Springs, by contrast, is under contract for $33.85 a square foot (by my calculations) and needs a lot of work. I saw the building two years back when considering a small adjacent space for a gallery. The second floor is basically gutted, if I recall correctly, and covered in pigeon poop. The first floor is outdated and basically used as storage — and storefront for the occasional garage sale. The driving idea behind this remodel is something called The Studios on Broadway.

What’s amazing to me is that the more expensive of these two buildings is in a much smaller community. I’m used to real estate being higher in more populous communities.

Regardless of the differences in these two downtown buildings, I hope both projects succeed. Both projects could give their respective communities a significant push in the right direction. The smaller brick structure next to the one my father is considering is already being renovated, and some of us have high hopes for the seven story Masonic Temple building — recently purchased by someone attmepting to turn it into studios and apartments for artists, with a dinner theater in the larger ballroom space. Friends of mine in Grand Island are skeptical as to whether or not this will actually happen, but we can still hope!

It seems quite likely (though by no means definite at this point) that I will be integrally involved in the project/business my father is considering — if he does indeed purchase the property. My potential involvement presents some very exciting opportunities.

Update: My father made an offer on the building Monday, asking for a response by Wednesday. The offer is a bit low by some people’s standards, but the realtor did say the sellers were quite motivated and the property has been on the market almost a year.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

2 Responses to Two old buildings in two different states

  1. Pingback: Furniture Design: A beautiful buffet and my sanity « The Aesthetic Elevator

  2. Pingback: Architectural cover up « The Aesthetic Elevator

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