ROCK SPRINGS — It might be old, and the pigeons may be the only recent tenants but the message at a workshop discussing the First Security Bank was that it is possible. Whether it came from Rock Springs Mayor Carl Demshar or the associates of Myers Anderson, several times it was expressed that rehabilitating the building and making it an integral part of the downtown was very possible. However, the price tag of $3.9 million will have to be addressed somehow.
Myers Anderson went through the building floor by floor and step by step with the council. Jerry Myers explained they looked at the exterior, interior, structural integrity, utilities and everything which would go along with the building. Several years ago the Rock Springs Urban Renewal Agency explored the idea of retail space on the bottom, office space on the middle floor and apartments on the top floor. This is how the architects looked at the building as they drafted the plan.
Project Manager Bud Nielson started with the exterior of the building. He said the building is 100 percent landlocked with no outside space. He told the council the exterior has the highest level of historic integrity and is in relatively good condition. The lower roof is in poor condition and of course the windows will need replaced.
The issue of parking was also brought up. Nielson said he did not see parking as an issue because the use of the building was not going to change, and the historically available parking is adequate.
Nielson said the chimney is in good condition and told the council they really should save the chimney as they rehabilitate the building. As for the drive-through area on Broadway, Nielson said it does pose structural issues to the second floor. “The majority of the outside is mostly cosmetic,” Nielson summed up.
As the discussion went inside, Nielson explained they did have a unique opportunity when it came to utilities. He explained the city has a utility review process that projects go through, and they were able to send this project through the review. The result was most of the infrastructure was right there, although upgrades would need to be done on most of the utilities.
Again, most of the interior damage is cosmetic. Woodwork and banisters remain intact, and the original floor plan configuration remains. The original stairway and the original second and third level layouts also remain.
One major focus is asbestos, pigeon debris and lead paint mitigation. Structurally, Nielson said the exterior envelope issues are cosmetic but overall the interior structural columns, floors and roof are structurally sound although the roof will need to fixed. There is heaving of basement and lobby floors and some deterioration of first floor concrete decks and beams.
Myers Anderson presented the $3.9 million redevelopment in three phases. The first phase would start with completing the retail tenant space on the main level. Do the structural upgrades and basement floor replacement and then make safe access for the entire building.
Also in the first phase would be fire suppression and egress systems to be installed throughout the building. Upgrading building utility infrastructure, re-roofing and structural upgrades round out the first phase.
Tenant build out for the second level; additional structural upgrades and mechanical and electrical systems would be the second and third phases. “We look at this project as very feasible,” Nielson said. “You have to look at the value to the community and the historical value.”
For Demshar, he said he is happy to hear the building has good structural integrity. He also said this building is important to the downtown revitalization. He spoke about his trips to Fort Collins and how there is one particular building in old downtown. He told the audience once they were able to bring that building back to life the entire area started to develop.
“If there is a building, along with the theater, that is integral to the downtown revitalization it is this building,” Demshar said. “I really believe this building is the catalyst which will get the downtown going.”
Demshar also discussed money. He spoke about possibly going out for grants and setting money aside but said he has difficulty doing this because he was not sure he wanted the city to become a landlord. “I’m afraid of that,” Demshar said.
In closing, Demshar said there is an importance to the project, but some questions that need to be answered.
“We really want to revitalize the downtown and these are things we have to tackle,” he said. “I like the plan and wish we had the money. We as a council need to figure out what the next step is.”