Richard Akin, who restored the store fronts on the east side of the Monticello town square, has accepted Leslie McKiever’s donation of her partially collapsed two-story building on the south side of the square.
“We’re going to totally restore it,” Akin told Seark Today Wednesday evening.
The south portion of the building collapsed about two years ago following several weeks of heavy rainfall and high winds. The city was making preparations to have the historic building razed because it posed a potential safety hazard, but McKiever, who wanted to see the building restored rather than razed, agreed to donate it to anyone willing to do so.
Akin, who accepted the donation, said there is about 1,700 to 1,800 square feet remaining on the first floor that he will restore as retail space, removing the suspended ceilings to reveal the original tin ceilings and add chandeliers.
Upstairs, he will create two loft apartments. Each apartment will be about 750 square-feet with a living area, kitchen, bath, and one bedroom.
On the collapsed south side of the building, Akin will remove the unstable wall, construct another, and create a back entrance to the apartments with a deck large enough for a grill and patio furniture.
“I think I already have the loft apartments rented when they are finished,” he said.
Akin said he doesn’t plan to change the exterior except to repair the trim, clean and repaint it the building, and install vinyl, energy-efficient windows like those on the building he most recently restored on the southwest side of the square, next to city hall.
“I have been told that the building’s awning is copper,” Akin said. “I will have it cleaned and restored.”
Asked how much it will cost to restore the building, Akin said about $150,000, twice what he expected, but Union Bank has agreed to give him a good interest rate.
“I talked to Zach (McClendon) and Dave (Dickson) and they gave me a good interest rate and special financing so that I could do this,” Akin said, explaining that they wanted to see the building nicely restored because it is located on the town square, across from the bank.
McKiever, who endured a great deal of public criticism while trying to resolve the issue with her building, said she is pleased that Akin could see the building’s potential.
“I’m happy that Mr. Akin could see the potential the building still offered,” McKiever said. “His renovation of this particular building, I’m sure, will be as pleasing as his other efforts around the square. I’m also pleased that the future of the building is finally resolved so I can return to being a private citizen. It’s been very hard solving this problem in such a public fashion.”
Akin said he hopes to have the restoration completed in time for the Christmas parade.