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Cherry Manor slated for residential, office space

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by Paul Flemming

SBJ Staff

Ron Looney saw the Cherry Manor building as an opportunity waiting to happen.

"It was there, somebody had to do it."

Looney, who owns and manages about 130 residential properties around the Southwest Missouri State University campus, bought the property in November. After discussing his plans with the Rountree Neighborhood Association, he proceeded with plans to convert the building to a mixed-use residential and low-impact office building.

The building at 1330 E. Cherry began life in 1914 as Southwest Hospital, Looney said. Since then it has gone through various incarnations as a nursing home, apartments and, for a time in the 1920s, as the Bachelor's Inn, a boarding house for men.

Now Looney is undertaking a "complete transformation" of the distinctive property, including getting it listed as a historical site by the Springfield Landmarks Board.

Looney's Private Investments Inc. owns the property, and his University Properties will manage it.

The outside of the concrete-and-stucco structure is being sandblasted now, and historically appropriate paint will follow. Landscaping and parking changes are called for, as well.

Along with the outside alterations, the interior will be completely remodeled.

The three-level building has 12,000 square feet of space, including an earlier addition to the back of the building. On the 3,600-square-foot first level, Looney is preparing two five-suite residential areas that will share a community lounge and kitchen in the rear addition.

Looney said he is finalizing the lease on one side of the residential area, which he characterized as an upscale dormitory.

The second level is set to be office suites. Both levels are targeted for completion June 15.

Looney said the Cherry Manor project represents his first foray into commercial lease space. The low-impact offices no retail or manufacturing will come in two self-contained, five-suite areas.

"I'm trying to do the renovation without changing the character of the building," Looney said.

He has retained the interior molding and is refinishing the hardwood floors that were revealed when existing tile was removed. Yet the space will be updated for contemporary, efficient use. Looney said 71 new windows will be installed.

Allen Casey, of The Casey Associates, is performing architectural work on the project, and Mike Dobbs is consulting on the building's historical detail. Looney is serving as general contractor.

Kirk Heyle, of Heyle Realtors & Counseling Services LLC, is the leasing agent on the commercial space, which will lease at $9.50 a square foot. He said the mixed use is similar to other office and residential properties on Walnut Street, as well as his own building on National Avenue.

"There are students up above me, students beside me" and the activity does not detract from conducting business, Heyle said. "The exuberance of the university is all around. It's nice."

Looney said development of the 1,600-square-foot third floor will happen later, perhaps as early as this fall.[[In-content Ad]]

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