JEFFERSONVILLE — Despite a more than yearlong delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unforeseen repair issues, developer Denton-Floyd Real Estate Group is making progress on the former Masonic Temple in downtown Jeffersonville.
The building is expected to be completed within a year.
Denton-Floyd recently finished initial repairs to the roof flooring and asbestos and lead paint mitigation “so now we’re really ready to hit the ground running on the heavy renovations of the property,” said co-founder Brandon Denton. He expects to be able to move the company headquarters there by next March.
In January 2018, Denton-Floyd announced plans to buy the historic Spring Street landmark, built in 1926, from the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission for $300,000.
The deal was set to take place after the redevelopment commission purchased the property from Chris Nolan of Pinnacle Properties, who acquired the property in 1999. The announcement also came after nearly a year of uncertainty about whether the building would even be saved. Nolan had not developed the site, and major damage to the roof during Indiana’s beating from Hurricane Ike in 2008 left it exposed to the elements for close to 10 years.
In 2017, Nolan petitioned to raze the heavily-damaged structure, a petition denied by the Jeffersonville Historic Preservation Commission. As he was putting in a good-faith effort to find a developer, the deal with Denton-Floyd and the city came through.
Denton-Floyd has been involved in both new construction and historic preservation projects in the Southern Indiana and Louisville area, and Denton said while rehabilitating the older buildings can mean unique challenges, the company loves to help bring them back to life.
“They’re much more difficult to do but we enjoy seeing the positive ripple effect it creates, not just with the building itself but the surrounding area,” he said. “Whenever you take a dilapidated, distressed property that’s an eyesore and convert into something that still retains the historical significance it once had, yet has modern amenities inside more fitting for today’s purposes, we really enjoy seeing that transformation. It creates a sense of place.”
The exterior will retain its original character, and the interior will hold on to the exposed brick throughout. The marble rear staircase will be refurbished. New touches will include a series of skylights in the large upper room, along with a glassed area for meeting space.
To retain the historical character of the building, Denton said, they don’t want to do a lot to the facade other than make it stable and repair where needed.
Although company leaders had initially planned to have the building finished and be moved in by the end of 2020, they faced some surprises. The pandemic, which disrupted supply chains across the U.S., has extended the project by about six to eight months, Denton said. This has included delays on lumber and the historic windows that are being replaced, now expected to be in by May.
The extent of the damage inside the building — things that the company couldn’t see until they really got in and started getting involved — have added about another six months, he said.
The first thing they did was replace the roof, and then “once we started peeling back the layers of the onion so to speak on this project, which we couldn’t do until we took ownership of the property and started doing our investigation behind the plaster and underneath the floors, we found a lot of issues with the project that we did not anticipate,” he said.
The 10 years of exposure from the hole in the roof caused a tremendous amount of water damage and wood rot, including in the subfloors, behind walls and wall joists.
They had to remove about 95% of the flooring, and just last week finished reinstalling enough to be safe for contractors to work inside.
They also had to do mitigation for asbestos and lead paint.
“We’ve done a lot of adaptive reuse projects on historic properties so we’ve come to expect the unexpected,” he said. “So it wasn’t a huge shock. But it’s always unfortunate when you get delays in schedule. Because this is going to be our home and, out of any project, we’re really looking forward to getting this one finished up as quickly as possible so we can move in there and have a home for our employees.”
Other Denton-Floyd projects now underway in Southern Indiana include Bridgepointe Gardens (assisted-living facility); Lakeside Gardens (multifamily); Ellis Apartments (multifamily) and Bridgepointe Commons (commercial development by River Ridge).