Project Tracker: Second set of Edgerton warehouse apartments moving along

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Neil Johnson
December 15, 2013

EDGERTON—Call it vertical integration or a lofty vision.

Edgerton businessman Dan Rinehart is knee deep in his second revamp of a set of aging tobacco warehouses on the city's west side, with a goal to finish a set of true loft-style apartments and begin renting them in March 2014.

Rinehart has invested nearly $2 million to date to convert to apartments two decrepit warehouses he owns just west of downtown in the 300 block of West Fulton Street.

He finished the first warehouse in May 2012, tapping banking investors and city redevelopment incentives to bring a 19,000-square-foot, two-story warehouse back from the brink of destruction. That warehouse has 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom apartments on both floors and rents at about $750 a month. It has been 100 percent occupied since.

Now, Rinehart is months away from finishing a second, similarly-sized warehouse just to the west of the first apartment. Only this warehouse is a different beast. It's three stories tall, which allows Rinehart to turn the spaces into a mix of 12 one-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments.

Electrical and plumbing contractors are working in the second warehouse now, and the living spaces are framed out, giving an early glimpse at an apartment layout unlike anything in Edgerton.

The first floor is set to house six one-bedroom, 1,000 square-foot, open-concept studio apartments. But the second and third stories of the warehouse will be split into 6 larger, two-floor apartments with high celings and open balconies that create sweeping vertical open space and a third-floor overlook.

The three-bedroom apartments have 1,700 square feet of living space split on two floors, but the open vertical space between the upstairs and downstairs will make the apartments feel nearly twice as large, Rinehart said.

“It's all open-air, open space. There's probably nothing else like this anywhere around here. Not even Madison has more than a handful of true loft-style apartments,” Rinehart said. 

Rinehart said the three-bedroom apartments will rent for $990 a month, and he expects commuters who live in Beloit and Janesville and drive to work in Madison will be the apartments' main tenants. That's been the trend in his first warehouse apartment.

As with the first warehouse renovation, Rinehart plans to keep as many original features in the building as he can. The warehouse has enormous wood support beams and ceiling corner supports that Rinehart plans to keep exposed. One apartment has a heavy metal door that was once used for a loading bay, and contractors plan to frame it in to create a one-of a kind feature.

“Some of these features, you can't recreate. By keeping them, you're really nailing down the feel of a warehouse,” Rinehart said.

The city has shared tax incentives and redevelopment with Rinehart for both warehouse projects, which are located in the city's historic tax increment financing district. Rinehart considers the projects a public-private partnership that captures the essence of blight elimination.  

Without redevelopment, the aging warehouses would have been threatened with demolition.

“With just this one (warehouse) building renovation, we take a tax base of $20,000 and turn it into a tax base in the million-dollar area. And we save a historic building,” Rinehart said. “These (renovations) were either going to happen or I was going to take the buildings down, leaving them as is was a liability for everybody.

“It's a triple bonus of saving a historical feature, creating a tax base for the city and actually having people be able to use it for something unique.”

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