By Katie Dahlstrom
---- — CLINTON — What was once a vacant downtown Clinton building filled only with historic charm and memories of a former restaurant, brewery or paper company, is now a bustling, modern office.
Patrick and Julie Lonergan purchased and renovated the building at 132 Sixth Ave. South to suit the needs of Julie’s senior housing management company and Patrick’s financial practice. While it took a little longer than expected, the extra time and effort were well worth it to make the space perfect for the Lonergan Group, the Clinton couple said.
"It's us. It's a little different from what you expect from what you see to when you come in. It's unique. And I love that it's a cool space that most people aren't anticipating to see in Clinton," Julie said.
The wood floors remained in the building, which in its past was Patrick's Steakhouse, the Mississippi Brewing Company and the Clinton Paper Company. The bar area was given a slight makeover with new furniture and accessories. The couple also kept the exposed brick walls in most of the main floor area. A wall was added on the east side of the space to create several offices, mirroring the glass wall that already existed on the west side that formerly served as a means to keep cigarette smoke from drifting to the other areas of the restaurant.
Where brewery space used to be is now a conference room complete with a mural done by a local artist. Tin ceilings and exposed duct work complete the space.
"When we were in the Twin Cities and we traveled a lot to New York, Chicago and that's kind of a loft, creative space feel where they have that exposed brick and the duct work," Julie said. "And also it's just a cool feature architecturally. We have this great historic building to be able to keep those elements was important."
A safe that has been with the building since its days as the Clinton Paper Company still sits near the front of the building behind the front desk, but now is adorned with the Lonergan Group logo.
The couple hopes their building transformation, partnered with the excitement being generated by the impending Wilson Building project, will spur more renovation motivation.
"I think what we're most proud about with this project is giving people the opportunity to see that they can turn vacant, historic buildings into something worthwhile. There are so many opportunities downtown and I think people just can't see the vision for how it could look," Julie said. "I'd love to be able to be a place where people could walk through and see how it turned out and talk about the process."
It cost $150,000 to purchase the building and another $100,000 for the renovation on 5,000 square feet on the first floor including the furnishings.
"For somebody to go build something with brick and all the features this building has would probably cost three times as much as what we spent on buying the building and renovating it," Patrick said.
They assure people wondering about the black wall on the building's outside east wall that it is not going to stay just black. The bottom of the wall will be bordered with the same type of blocks that line the front of the building. A 6-foot-tall and 7-foot-wide rendering of their logo "LG" is in the works to be placed across the black wall. They are also toying with the idea of placing a large American flag on the wall.
The building's second floor has yet to be touched. The couple hopes to turn the space into an office co-op where business owners who are just getting started can rent office space that would include access to a copier, receptionist and other amenities.
Before the couple undertakes that renovation, they would like to have interested people look at the space. The building boasts 7,000 square feet on the upper floor waiting for local business owners.