Building on Broadway already drawing interest from renters

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Masonry contractor Daniel F. Stroder works on rebuilding the south exterior wall of the Vasterling building Monday afternoon in Cape Girardeau. Renovation of the 143-year-old building at the corner of Sprigg Street and Broadway is expected to be complete no later than June. (Laura Simon)
Dan Stroder of Stroder Masonry patches a window on the west side of the Vasterling building Monday afternoon in Cape Girardeau. Renovation of the 143-year-old building at the corner of Sprigg Street and Broadway is expected to be complete no later than June. (Laura Simon)

The rehabilitation of one of Cape Girardeau's oldest buildings has caught the attention of three future tenants, who the building's owner said have already forked over deposits to occupy the structure once construction is completed by June.

Two commercial interests and one residential renter have already committed to lease sections of the 143-year-old Julius Vasterling Building at the corner of Broadway and North Sprigg Street, developer Kenny Pincksten said Tuesday.

While Pincksten declined to provide specifics, he said that one of the businesses is in retail and the other is in the art industry.

"I'm half-booked and I haven't even advertised," Pincksten said. "There's not even a sign out there with my phone number on it. People are trying to hunt me down to get information on the building."

After a year of delays, Pincksten began working in October to renovate the building that city officials have described as an eyesore. After nearly three months of construction, more than 70 percent of the exterior brickwork is finished, he said.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was chosen for the register based on its architectural characteristics from the period. It is one of the few remaining German house stores.

Pincksten hopes to have all of the brickwork done by the middle of January; he first needs to demolish the east wall and rebuild it using the same recycled bricks.

After that, the $800,000 project calls for putting on a new roof and trusses. That will be followed by interior remodeling, with occupancy expected to take place by late spring or early summer.

"It's unusual that we're ahead of schedule, Pincksten said. "Normally it's the other way around."

When he's finished, he intends for the building to look as it did when it was built in 1868. He even has hired a company to custom-make windows and doors, similar to those used immediately following the Civil War.

"I want that building to look like it did 143 years ago," Pincksten said.

The building has previously housed a meat market, dry goods store, pool hall and saloon.

Three businesses will occupy the first floor with three residential units on the second floor, he said.

City officials had been frustrated by the year of delays that came before the work began. A development agreement was entered into after the city applied for, and was awarded, a nearly $400,000 state Community Development Block Grant for the project in November 2010.

The agreement stipulated that once Pincksten was notified that the city had been awarded the grant, he had 45 days to submit plans and specifications for city review. Pincksten didn't submit plans until Feb. 11. The city responded with comments five days later, and Pincksten responded April 5. The city's response to that was returned to Pincksten 10 days later. It continued like this until plans were finally approved in June.

"We had some changes we had to make during pre-construction to meet city code," Pincksten said. "There was lots of back and forth between the architects, engineers and the city."

Now, the work seems to be progressing smoothly and city officials say they are happy to hear it. Mayor Harry Rediger said he's anxious to see how the building looks in the coming months.

"It hasn't started to take shape yet," Rediger said. "But it's good to see action and I'm sure the exterior pretty soon is going to take shape."

Old Town Cape executive director Marla Mills said she knew people would want to occupy that building. It's in a good location, she said, and people no doubt are drawn to the historic feel of the building. She also thinks having businesses and residences in the building is important.

"Having it commercial like that is really key to keeping that neighborhood active and vibrant," Mills said. "That will feed other businesses around it."

Pincksten, Rediger and Mills all said they hope projects like this one are contagious, and in some cases that seems to be so. They pointed to projects like the soon-to-be rehabbed Esquire Theater and other projects along Broadway.

Pincksten hopes his project will inspire others to buy vacant Broadway buildings and fix them up. He knows it's not always easy. When he started out, he called the Vasterling building the "ugliest" building on Broadway.

"I'd like to see some of these abandoned buildings come back to life," he said. "I want it to catch on."


Pertinent address:

635-637 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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