GOSHEN — Almost a decade has passed since JC Schrock first toured the Hawks Furniture building along the Millrace Canal, and in two weeks he'll be there again to be part of the building’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Schrock is the vice president of DJ Construction, a company working with LaCasa Inc. to convert the three-story Hawks building into a space with 35 apartments where artists and entrepreneurs can live and work. The two groups will break ground for the building’s redevelopment at 11 a.m. April 17. The public is invited to visit the building at 215 W. Madison St. and take a tour of the accessible parts of the future Hawks Arts and Enterprise Center
“Our community needs more economic diversity but has lacked incentives for small business,” LaCasa president Larry Gautsche said in a news release. “I’m very pleased that LaCasa has been able to bring together the resources to make this opportunity possible. We hope that this affordable live/work residential community will help retain graduates and encourage artists and entrepreneurs to pursue their careers and build their businesses in our community.”
But before anyone can move in, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
“We’re really stripping back to the bones of the building and restoring it from the ground up,” Schrock said.
The Hawks building was constructed some time around the 1870s and added onto over several decades. The building needs new plumbing, heating and electrical utilities. DJ Construction’s crew will install windows, a new roof and an elevator. The building will maintain an industrial atmosphere with exposed masonry, wood and concrete floors. Some rooms will have interior brick walls.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this, and now that it’s becoming reality, we want to get going,” said Bonnie Martin, LaCasa’s vice president of development.
Brad Hunsberger, LaCasa’s vice president of real estate development, said in a news release that the groundbreaking ceremony “represents the culmination of years of planning and the renaissance of this building that has been important to Goshen’s history.”
“This project, in conjunction with the other development planned along the Millrace canal, begins the rebuilding of a fully revitalized historic corridor adjacent to Goshen’s downtown,” he said.
Schrock said the goal is to complete the renovation project by April 2015.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.