The decks on the three-story front exterior wall of 115 S. Main St. are the most eye-popping—and in some units, the most attractive—feature of this downtown apartment building.
Inside, it’s the staircase that connects the three levels.
It’s the first thing that appears inside the main entrance. On the second floor, it splits into two smaller staircases that flank it on both sides to lead residents to the third floor.
Above, a skylight provides natural light to the hardwood steps below, even on a dreary Wednesday afternoon.
Building owner Kaley Jenkins wanted to preserve these original features when she began the enormous task of renovating the structure in September 2017.
After nearly two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of repairs, the building is almost ready to welcome tenants. It is perhaps the earliest example of downtown housing reinvestment coming to fruition.
Janesville is fully immersed in an effort to revitalize the city center. As the ARISE project enters its middle stages, city officials and business leaders have emphasized the need for more housing to increase downtown foot traffic.
Most new units downtown are still ideas or are just beginning renovations. That puts Jenkins’ building ahead of the curve.
The building includes six studios and eight one-bedroom units. Jenkins said that is essentially the same as the original layout. Some might know the building as the Marquette for the letters emblazoned above its front steps.
Jenkins has not been able to find much information about its former name—or anything else about it. The building sits just outside the city’s historic district, and any notable facts were lost to years of disrepair and vacancy, she said.
Jenkins, a Wisconsin native currently living outside Seattle while serving in the Air Force, had experience leading other small-scale renovation projects. But those were single-family homes or duplexes, not full apartment buildings, she said.
Downtown momentum attracted her to the Janesville market. She said 115 S. Main St. was “maybe the ugliest one” she saw, but she was undeterred and bought the building for about $270,000.
Because the building is in a tax increment financing district, the city provided $37,000 in TIF incentives, plus another $5,000 for façade improvement, Economic Development Director Gale Price wrote in an email to The Gazette.
Jenkins’ company, Key Real Estate Solutions, poured about $750,000 into fixing the building, which has since been renamed Everett’s Place for her 2-year-old son. Contractors preserved distinctive character features where they could, such as internal milk chutes and original baseboards, she said.
But Everett’s Place received new mechanical equipment, plumbing and electrical components and new high-efficiency windows. Each unit has its own heating and cooling controls. Granite countertops grace kitchens and bathrooms.
Monthly rent starts at $700, Jenkins said.
The antiquated mechanical systems provided a greater challenge and forced workers to think creatively. To celebrate the arduous restoration, Jenkins is organizing a barbecue June 29 where construction crews, new tenants and anyone else involved in the project can come together to socialize.
“We really want to create a really strong, professional, young, exciting culture in the building versus just another apartment that you can rent,” Jenkins said. “The building means a lot to us and is very personal. A lot of love has been put into it, so we want to pass that forward.”