One recent morning, Brad Hunsberger took a walk through part of Goshen’s past. He was talking about the future.
Hunsberger, vice president of real estate development with LaCasa Inc., was giving a reporter a tour of the former Hawks furniture building on the east side of the millrace. The structure has been empty and idle for several years now. Suffice it to say the Hawks shows signs of disuse.
The LaCasa organization has ambitious plans for the Hawks building, though, and those goals are in keeping with a theme of repurposing a stretch of the River Race area.
LaCasa, the Goshen Redevelopment Commission and private developers are key players in revitalizing the area. The new reality? New housing near downtown in the Maple City.
The Hawks building
The Hawks furniture building dates back to the 1860s, in Hunsberger’s estimation. The structure’s origin ties in to when the millrace itself was built.
“It was the power for the building,” Hunsberger said. The main floor was used for manufacturing up through 2003 or 2004, he said. Frederick Tool was the last business entity to operate out of it.
LaCasa saw potential in the building, and of so much square footage so close to downtown. That group’s plan is to repurpose the Hawks into living/work space for artists and entrepreneurs.
“LaCasa will be building out with 35 apartments on the south section of the building,” Hunsberger said. Those one- and two-bedroom units will be on all three floors of the Hawks.
“The units will be laid out and designed to accommodate the apartment unit for artist workspace,” Hunsberger said. “That will be a very loft-style look. The exposed ceilings and framework will be left exposed.”
The Hawks is still under the ownership of the Redevelopment Commission. LaCasa anticipates closing on the property in late March or early April. Hunsberger said LaCasa is working with DJ Construction to finalize the full construction contract, and also with the various subcontractors. Occupancy is expected to start in March 2015.
“It’s going to be about an 11- or 12-month process,” Hunsberger said.
Goshen is emerging as an arts center, in Hunsberger’s view. The plan for the Hawks building fits in with that trend.
“It feels like it’s the right time,” Hunsberger said of the project. “Our market studies show it will support it. And we’re going to start marketing it here shortly.”