TYLER - One year after buying the historic New York Store property in downtown Tyler, the developer says he and his company will start major renovations.
John O’Sullivan, who bought the property in February, said in an interview Thursday that he will start doing deconstruction of the current roof next month. He predicted the lofts would be ready to use in a year.
“The biggest delay is that we’re doing this pretty much out of pocket, and so I had to wait a little bit for the funds that I have to come available, and we had them tied up,” O’Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan said the family company, O’Sullivan Management, is planning to be the general contractor on the building. His son, an Austin-based architect, is doing the design work.
O’Sullivan said the building will have eight loft apartments on the property that are 800 square feet to 900 square feet with monthly rents in the $800 to $900 range. He said he likes old buildings and wants to renovate the building to look similar to the way it did in the 19th century.
“I have pictures from the late 1800s on what it originally was, and it had the big arched windows with decorative brick on the front, and that is the façade that I’m planning to bring back,” O’Sullivan said.
“We’re going to take those fossilized limestone blocks down,” he said. “I’m sure somebody will have a use for those because they’re good blocks, but we’re going to take those down.”
Amber Rojas, the city of Tyler’s historic preservation officer and interim Main Street manager, said the city supports the project as another part of the “full circle revitalization of downtown Tyler.”
“It’s been utilized as a storage (space) for the past 20 years at least, and so with it getting some life back into it and a very vital corner of downtown, it will start breathing some life back into the East Square,” she said.
Rojas said the city is working with the Texas Historical Commission to see if there are incentives O’Sullivan qualifies for to renovate the building. She said the city also is hoping to get a historical designation for the New York Store sign.
O’Sullivan said he has preserved the New York Store sign. He said he wants to use the old signage and call the property the New York Lofts.
“I want to use the sign up above the building just like they used to like they do in some of the buildings in big cities where the sign is above the building, mounted on the roof,” O’Sullivan said.
“We’ll figure out how to mount it above the building and have that as our kind of little landmark because everyone seems to know where the New York Store was,” he said. “That was the first thing you saw when you turned off of Erwin Street onto Broadway heading east.”
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