- Real Estate
- Food & Drink
Nov. 13, 2019
Grant Houwman figured the downtown building his family owns probably would continue to be an office building – until a conversation with someone looking to open a distillery caused him to start reimagining it.
Houwman and his family’s development company, H4J1, which developed Washington Square and has renovated other historic downtown buildings, has owned the property at 114 S. Main Ave. since 1998.
Built in 1941 by Sioux Falls Construction – now Journey Group – and designed by Harold Spitznagel, it originally was partially occupied by the gas utility that served Sioux Falls.
At the time, cooking with gas in the home was new – so the main floor served as a showroom to highlight gas cooking, and the upstairs was office space.
Over the years, it has been used by several office tenants, including LSS, Chenega Logistics and Sanford Health.
The second floor is mostly leased or has leases in progress, but the 14,000-square-foot first floor and half of the lower level are available.
Houwman was talking recently with someone who was looking for a location for a distillery when he happened to show the prospective tenant the building.
“It was a fluke,” he said. “But he talked about driving forklifts in here and adding garage doors … to have more of an industrial look. With (the style of construction), it is basically a parking ramp. You can drive anything on it.”
Since then, he has talked with multiple potential distillery owners and evolved his thinking to include potential retail in the building.
“My mind has completely changed, especially with the parking (ramp) next door,” he said.
NAI Sioux Falls, which has the space listed, has rebranded it The Gas Co. Building.
“We’re going back to the original concept of the building,” said Gregg Brown, who has the property co-listed with Marcus Mahlen.
“There’s some cool history and design. Back then, it was a very modern building. We just felt it needed to be repositioned, and the retail piece came about when Grant opened up these ceilings, which enabled him to revision it differently.”
There has been some work done to open up the interior space, and some carpet was removed to reveal a terrazzo floor.
While it could still lease as office space, Houwman envisions that multiple food retailers could be located there and complement a potential distillery, creating a version of a food hall.
A patio could be added off the back, and the rooftop potentially could be used by retailers as a seating area.
“It would be thinking out of the box, but structurally this can do anything,” he said.
A distillery? A food hall? The owners of this downtown building are thinking it could work.