Broadway building rehab to begin next week

Thursday, July 7, 2011
The building at 633 Broadway was razed next to buildings at 635 and 637 Broadway at the corner of Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau in this January 2010 file photo. (Fred Lynch)

Kenny Pincksten calls it the ugliest building on Broadway. But he bought it anyway.

And the Cape Girardeau developer hopes that once the 143-year-old structure at the corner of Broadway and Sprigg Street gets a makeover, it will encourage others to follow suit.

"Hopefully, it will be a catalyst for someone to buy the second ugliest on Broadway and fix it up and then somebody to buy the third ugliest," Pincksten said. "I'm hoping this could be the trigger to get things rolling."

The $800,000 project is slated to begin next week, with plans in place to convert the dilapidated building that was built three years after the Civil War into a historically renovated mix of commercial and residential space. Pincksten hopes that, barring problems, the 2 1/2-story building can be completed by Christmas.

The last hurdle to construction was cleared last week, Pincksten said, when the city issued the building permits. Pincksten's Prestige Development Co. will begin work next week with site preparation, demolition, tearing out old walls and clearing away debris.

The building, situated at one of downtown's busiest intersections, is in serious disrepair. Known as the Julius Vasterling building, there is now a chain-link fence around it, along with boarded-up windows and roof damage. The inside is no better, Pincksten said.

"Basically, we've got to go inside and build a new building inside the existing building," he said. "That's about the best way I can sum it up."

Plans call for converting the main floor into commercial space while the upstairs will be remodeled for three loft apartments. Pincksten already has a list of interested commercial tenants, he said.

Half the project will be funded with a Missouri Community Development Block Grant, which requires a matching amount from the developer. The grant requires that the work follow state historical guidelines to maintain the building's historic integrity.

Still, Pincksten said he has second-guessed his decision to renovate the building. He said he could have built a new structure for about $400,000, which is the same amount of his private investment to renovate.

"I think I would have had a whole lot nicer building if I'd built new," he said.

Regardless, he said he's optimistic that the project will spur more work like it. With Isle of Capri's casino slated to open next year and the Broadway corridor improvement project in the works, the timing is right, he said.

"My building was definitely the biggest eyesore on Broadway," Pincksten said. "But after the work, somebody else's building will be the biggest eyesore and hopefully this will encourage them to do something about it."

Pincksten isn't the only one thinking that way. City officials, downtown businesses and organizations that promote downtown said they share his optimism that the future of Broadway buildings will improve in the coming years.

"Properties along Broadway vary from good to OK to poor to a problem," Mayor Harry Rediger said. "I'm hopeful that when they see the plan for Broadway, it will spark the improvement of the facades and all sorts of other improvements."

Several business owners agreed, saying that what's good for one is good for all. But one poorly maintained building can hurt everybody.

"It's not like every building needs work, but the ones that do really stand out," said Kent Zickfield, owner of Zickfield's Jewelers. "I think there are some possibilities out there. But what Kenny's doing is a good example of what can be done if a fella wants to put some effort into it."

Old Town Cape executive director Marla Mills said she believes Pincksten will change his mind about wishing he had built new and that it will be worth it in the end.

"You can build a new building," she said. "It certainly will feel different, and to some people, it will feel better or they will like it better. But once you lose the history of the area, you can never get that back."


Pertinent address:

635-637 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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