STERLING – Two Sterling businessmen hope to breathe new life into a downtown building on the verge of demolition.
Scott Hibbard and Tom Loos are working with the city to acquire the Sterling Standard Building, 13 E. Fourth St., and turn it into a multiuse business facility.
The building’s history dates to the 1800s, according to Marilyn Huffman-Anderson, local history librarian at Sterling Public Library.
The Whiteside Chronicle was established in spring 1868. In January 1872, the name was changed to the Sterling Standard. In June 1916, the Sterling Daily Gazette and Daily Standard consolidated, and the Gazette moved to the East Fourth Street location in 1919.
In April 1935, Sterling Federal Savings and Loan Association bought the building; it moved out in 1966.
It has been almost 15 years since the building last was used, Sterling City Manager Scott Shumard said. At one point, it was a bar.
Because of its condition, the city decided to demolish the building, which is owned by Ed Montano of Las Vegas.
“At this point, the building is in significant disrepair,” Shumard said. “The city was initially planning to pursue a demolition order. We had a ballpark estimate from $95,000 to $135,000 for demolition.”
The city could either spend $100,000 to demolish it or work to acquire the property and sell it to someone who can rehabilitate it.
Enter Hibbard, who saw the building and thought it would make a great restoration project.
Now the city is working to change the demolition order into abandonment proceedings, Shumard said.
Someone advised Hibbard to get in touch with the city to try to rescue the building.
“There’s not very many historical buildings, so it’s one of the few last dinosaurs,” said Hibbard, who also is restoring a historic home on East Second Street once owned by Sterling physician Moses Royer.
“I’m always looking for my next project,” Hibbard said.
The building has an art deco facade and six to eight apartments upstairs that were put in during the 1940s.
He plans to rebuild the front and divide the first floor into a duplex for businesses. There could be three storefronts, based on who wants to rent the space, Hibbard said.
“The storefronts aren’t going to be like a typical contemporary one,” he said. “They’ll be historic storefronts with fabric awnings and things of that nature.”
A local resident already is interested in opening a bakery there, he said, declining to say who.
The renovation will be done in phases. To begin with, Hibbard and Loos must bring the site up to standard to begin work.
“It squishes when you walk, there’s so much water,” Hibbard said. “The ceilings have caved in, the drywall ... so we want to bring it back to zero, which means clean all the refuse up, do the abatements, put a roof on it.”
Phase I then will be restoring and building the facade, and reinstalling the original windows. Phase II will be the buildout phase, when Hibbard and Loos will determine who wants to rent space.
The second floor will consist of small business incubators, where renters will have access to a conference room and multimedia equipment for presentations, Hibbard said.
He hopes to begin construction this summer.
“Tom and I, we really love this town, and it’s a natural fit for us to do this,” Hibbard said.
Shumard said the project is a “win-win” for the city.
“We’re not spending money to demolish it that we would have had to,” he said. “At the same time, [we’re] allowing somebody that’s got obvious talent to restore and make productive use out of it.”
Interested in the commercial space in the Royer home or Sterling Standard Building?
Scott Hibbard, president of Northwest Homes, can be reached at email@example.com or 815-716-6150.
Work on Royer home coming along
STERLING – Scott Hibbard is making progress on his renovation of the historic 150-year-old Italianate at 401 E. Second St., once the home of Moses M. Royer, one of Sterling’s first doctors.
The plan is to create office space downstairs, and executive suites for overnight business stays on the second floor.
Crews have finished the porch and are working on the fence. When the weather improves, they will begin to tuckpoint, complete masonry repair and paint the exterior trim, he said.
"What's keeping that building from being fully finished is because we're taking the time to do the right thing," Hibbard said, “which is the front entry, the balusters, the spindles, because we want it to be historically relevant."
Hibbard, president of Northwest Homes, hopes to be finished by fall and hold an open house with Sterling Main Street during a Fourth Fridays art gathering.