NEW LOFTS: New Purpose For Old Building

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People are calling Walnut Street on the western edge of downtown an up and coming area, especially for a certain group of creative professionals.

Now, more people are calling the area home, thanks to a new affordable housing project. People involved with the Crane Artist Lofts cut the ribbon Wednesday afternoon, opening the door to a building with an interesting history.

New resident George McDaniel says you can’t beat the view. He says, “When you’re working in the kitchen, it’s right there.”

You can see downtown from the kitchen window of his new apartment in the Crane Artist Lofts. He says, “The views are great. You can’t knock the views from the top floor, the way the sun comes in.”

The lofts were developed with artists in mind. The rehabbed Crane Company building at 1440 Walnut Street includes tracks on the wall to hang artists’ work, a music room and a pottery room.

Project Consultant Renie Neuberger says you’ll find 36 units ranging in rent up to $925. But, some lofts will be rent restricted because of a low income housing tax credit from the Iowa Finance Authority. She says, “This is a mixed use/mixed income project.”

The second floor will be home to the community area where residents can hang out. It used to be home to a toilet showroom. Neuberger says, “The building was built in 1916 to manufacture toilets and sinks.” She goes on to say, “They had toilets sitting around that actually flushed to demonstrate new technology.”

Now, scraps from the rehabbed building will be made into furniture. The columns remain, along with exposed walls, and perhaps fittingly, certain facilities. She says, “These two restrooms are the old historic restrooms in the building.”

The old vault also remains. She says, “We turned the vault into a laundromat, I guess you could say.”

McDaniel says he already likes living in the old building with a new purpose. He says,”The area is great, and it’s up and coming.”

Three quarters of the lofts are already leased.


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