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The Mercantile taking shape

Public gets a glimpse into historic building's transformation

STERLING – The community was given a sneak peek Thursday of the continued transformation of a historic downtown building.

Sterling Main Street hosted a Business After Hours event from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Mercantile building at 117 W. Third St., known for 61 years as Fred Boese Floor Coverings.

Sterling Today, a nonprofit economic development group, is working to preserve the building’s historic integrity while making it a vibrant part of the downtown.

Because the nonprofit is handling the project alone, the work is being done in phases to make it financially feasible. The plan is for mixed-use development, with businesses on the main floor and a residential component for the second and third floors.

Much of the exterior work has been done, giving the original shell a badly needed facelift. The focus now is on bringing tenants into the more than 7,500 square-foot main floor.

While it’s still “very much under construction,” Main Street wanted to create some buzz about the available storefronts.

“We just got our building permit last month, and we have no utilities, but we thought the time was right to create some enthusiasm and spread the word to someone needing a storefront,” Main Street Executive Director Janna Groharing said.

Although there has been a lot of interest in the space, it has been difficult to get a commitment when the rent is still an unknown.
It won’t be subdivided until the first tenant is secured.

“Our schematics are based on four different storefronts, but if someone wants more space, we’ll figure it out,” Groharing said.

The cost also will depend on whether business owners want their area built out for them or would prefer to finish it themselves.

Although Sterling Today and Main Street are open to just about anything on the first floor, they have visualized some of their favorite options.

“We’d definitely like to see a nice food and drink place there, or some specialty retail,” Groharing said.

Design plans were available at the open house. Some preliminary work has been done inside – enough to give visitors a glimpse of what the huge blank canvas could become. Much of the brick has been exposed and there’s a wood floor and vintage tin ceiling that add warmth and charm.

Planners are leaning toward apartments or condominiums on the other two floors. They have been doing market research to determine what prospective buyers would want from the property.

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