- Associated Press - Sunday, March 28, 2021

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Tenants have begun moving into Copper Flats, an apartment complex in downtown Sioux City that previously housed a furniture store.

Long known as the Hatch Furniture building, the Copper Flats houses 30 one- and two-bedroom apartments, plus a vast retail space — about 6,000 square feet with uncommonly high ceilings — on the ground floor facing Pierce Street. The building opened officially on March 1, though leasing began earlier than that.

“It is really pretty much done, we’re just doing final punch-list items in the next couple weeks,” said Julie Stavneak, principle with J Development.

The Sioux City Journal reports that Copper Flats, 413 Pierce St., is the second of three historic Sioux City buildings controlled by Omaha-based J Development to begin leasing apartments.

The first was the old Commerce Building (now the Bluebird Flats), which began leasing last year. Work has yet to begin on the third property, the old Methodist Hospital between Douglas Street and Stone Park Boulevard.



Construction on the Copper Flats began around a year and a half ago. Stavneak said early this month about one-third of the apartments had already been leased.

The apartments, hallways and the retail space have maintained the building’s original hardwood and polished-concrete flooring and the original interior columns. A few of the apartments facing Pierce Street enjoy the building’s distinctive, original floor-to-ceiling windows.

Beyond these features, however, nearly everything in the building is brand new. Apartments have washers and dryers, dishwashers, quartz countertops and central air; there’s a secure room for packages and secured entryways, with an intercom system that lets residents know a visitor has arrived. Rent ranges from $775 to $1,250 per month.

“It was a complete renovation, and we did utilize historic tax credits. So — we did all new infrastructure, so all new plumbing, new electrical, new roofs — everything in it, ultimately, is new, except for historic things that we wanted to keep,” Stavneak said.

The total cost of the project was around $5.5 million.

Like the Bluebird Flats (Commerce Building), few of the apartments in the Copper Flats are totally identical, due partly to the fact that they were carved out space in an old building that wasn’t originally apartments.

Tenants in the Copper Flats have direct access to the downtown’s skywalk system and, via the skywalks, the downtown parking ramps, where they can park their vehicles for a fee. There’s also a rooftop patio that offers residents a panoramic view of the downtown.

Both the Bluebird Flats and Copper Flats apartments have a bright, modern, urbane chic, though Stavneak said the wood floors — which she is very fond of — lend the Copper Flats a “very warm” feel.

“The wood floors turned out really, really sharp,” Stavneak said.

J Development unveiled plans in the fall of 2017 to renovate the three historic properties, all of which were at least partly disused or completely vacant, into market-rate apartments. Along with the apartments in the old Davidson Building and the old Bekins building — which were separate, unrelated developments — J Development’s projects have been part of a wave of redevelopment in the downtown, in which aging properties are transformed into modern housing.

Both the Copper Flats and Bluebird Flats buildings have retail space on the ground floor; J Development is still seeking tenants to fill these spaces.

“We are currently looking hard for a great commercial tenant,” Stavneak said.

Thought its architectural style makes it look much older than the Commerce Building, the former Hatch Furniture building was actually built more than 20 years later, during the Great Depression. It was designed by the Chicago architects Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, who also designed the Union Station and Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

The brick structure was originally home to Montgomery Ward, the department-store chain which, like its competitor Sears, had begun as a catalog business in the 19th century before moving into brick-and-mortar retail. Montgomery Ward remained in the building until the 1970s, by which time the retailer had entered the decades-long, nationwide decline that led to its failure in 2001.

Yankton-based Hatch Furniture opened a location there in the 1980s, then closed it in 2008, then re-opened a few years later, then closed for good in 2014.

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