BELOIT - As downtown commercial development continues its strong growth as 2019 comes to a close, Hendricks Commercial Properties CEO Rob Gerbitz says it's time for the downtown housing market to catch up.
In an interview with the Beloit Daily News, Gerbitz confirmed the plan to add downtown apartments at 200 W. Grand Ave. is still on schedule to open late in 2020.
The Wright and Wagner Lofts project will add a 52-apartment, four-story building at the corner of Fourth Street and Grand Avenue with potential plans for two additional apartment buildings to be built on space closer to the Rock River. The lofts are named after the Wright and Wagner dairy that used to be in Beloit.
"We are really excited about it," Gerbitz said.
Gerbitz said the first building, which is expected to also include a 2,000-square-foot retail space, could open in the fourth quarter of 2020 with the two supporting buildings to follow pending market demand.
If all built out, the project could make way for 162 loft and two-bedroom units.
The company originally had planned to redevelop the former Kerry Ingredients production plant, but due to complications with the aging structure re-use plans had to be abandoned in favor of demolition and new construction.
"This really is a labor of love," Gerbitz said.
Don't expect the designs to stick out like a sore thumb in downtown, with the planned development looking to capture loft style housing commonly found in the Third Ward in Milwaukee and West Loop in Chicago, Gerbitz said.
"We knew we wanted to stay with the history of Beloit and make sure people who have never been here think the building is historic," Gerbitz said.
Since no basement structure is planned, Gerbitz said work could continue into January if temperatures hold.
"If you have to rip through some frost, so be it," Gerbitz said.
Parking is also set to be included in the project, according to plans by JLA Architects.
Demand for downtown housing has increased since the influx of commercial growth in the area.
"People just genuinely have been so interested in living in downtown Beloit and we've been a little bit behind in the housing side of things," Gerbitz said.
In other HCP development news, Gerbitz said plans for two spec buildings a 40-acre parcel at 720 Gateway Blvd. remain on schedule. Greater Beloit Economic Development Executive Director Andrew Janke said an offer between GBEDC and HCP is currently pending. Construction could get underway by next spring.