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Casey plans loft apartments for Sterling Hotel

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Allen Casey is renovating the Sterling Hotel, which opened to the public Jan. 10, 1911, into loft apartments and commercial space.

"It's been sort of a nondescript building sitting here. A lot of people have asked me, 'where is the Sterling?' Now I have the chance to make it something distinctive. I think it's got a lot of neat potential," Casey said.

The building at 312 Park Central East will house retail space, and loft and penthouse apartments, Casey said. The smallest of the apartments will be 630 square feet and the largest will be 1,510 square feet. The apartments will rent for $550 to $1,300 per month, depending on the unit's size, Casey said.

The first floor of the building and the lower level have about 6,500 or 7,000 square feet of available space for a commercial or office use. The commercial space will probably rent for $9 to $10 per square foot. Casey said he had not yet located any potential tenants, but he knew that the lower level had once been a rathskellar.

"I think it would be neat to restore that use of the lower level," Casey said.

The building's upper floors have not been used for some time, Casey said, possibly since 1962 when the hotel closed. Since that time, some office and commercial activity has gone on in the building, and the lower level and first floor have been renovated to reflect that. The upper floors, the second, third and fourth, are mostly original, Casey said.

"The first floor has had two or three renovations, but in the upper floors you can really get a sense of what the old hotel was like," Casey said.

Casey said he plans to use the atrium in the building to bring light into the building.

He also plans to use skylights on the roof, which will also have two penthouses. Casey said he is considering moving his architecture firm, The Casey Associates, into one of the penthouses.

The building will hold between 12 and 14 loft apartments where it once held 50 hotel rooms. Seven claw-foot bathtubs remain from the hotel, and Casey said he plans to use those tubs in the building's new design. He also plans to retain the windows and French doors in the building, and to use the iron staircase railings.

While it was a hotel, the building operated under several different names, Casey said. It started as the Sansone, and was built by John Woodruff. At one time the hotel was the Bowles Hotel and at one time it was the Springfield Hotel. In 1934, it became the Sterling Hotel. The last tenant of the building, an engineering firm, left in 1995, Casey said. He expects to close on the hotel in about a month, he added.

"These kinds of projects are really rewarding. As an architect, this is the kind of thing it's easy to get excited about," Casey said.

A longtime supporter of center city, Casey was formerly involved with the Downtown Springfield Association. He said one of the keys to the area in terms of getting more residential and office complexes like the one he plans to renovate is to sustain the level of development going on now in the center city area.

"One of the keys to the development in this area has been the restaurants. There are several different varieties of first-class restaurants here, and that helps the office market stay vital. If you live here, it's a tremendous benefit to be within walking distance of those restaurants," Casey said.

The building, set to be completely renovated within 10 months, will have two stairways, elevators, secured parking, a sprinkler system and new electricity and plumbing. The Casey Associates is handling the architectural services for the project, and the project architect is Vince Ebersoldt. Kenmar Construction is the contractor.

Casey said he is also continuing to look for photographs and history on the building.

PHOTO CAPTION:

Architect Allen Casey stands outside the former Sterling Hotel. Casey will renovate the hotel into loft apartments and commercial space during the next 10 months.

PHOTO CAPTION:

The Sterling Hotel appears in an early photo. The hotel first opened as the Sansone. Casey includes this photo as part of his history collection on the building.[[In-content Ad]]

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