‘Phoenix’ ready for 1st tenant

Posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 4:00 pm

By Shaun Zinck szinck@beloitdailynews.combeloitdailynews.com

The Phoenix Project is nearly ready to welcome its first business tenant.

Beloit city councilors cleared the way Monday night for marketing and advertising firm Rick Wells, Ltd. to move into about 2,500 square feet on the ground floor of the building at 430 E. Grand Ave.

A conditional use permit was needed for the office space because the building is located in the Central Business District-Core, which only allows retail businesses and restaurants. The permit allows up to 3,800 square feet for office space.

Rob Gerbitz, COO of Hendricks Commercial Property, owner and developer for the Phoenix Project, said the space is nearly complete.

“I was down there (Monday), and they are pretty much down to the final coat of paint, and lights,” he said. “So it should be any day now.”

The rest of the ground floor likely will be used for retail businesses or a restaurant. Julie Christensen, director of community development, said if Hendricks wanted more office space they would need to come before the council again.

“Hendricks told us how much space they wanted to be used for office space,” Christensen said.

Rick Wells, Ltd. is moving from Rockford, and owner Rick Wells told the Beloit Daily News previously he planned to hire three additional people right away with the possibility of more in the future. Wells also said he planned to rename the firm, but he was still in the process of legally changing over.

Gerbitz said no more work can be done on the ground floor until more tenants lease out the space.

“We built the shell, and as the tenants start to move in everything will have to built out then,” he said.

The top three levels will be residential, and Gerbitz said they could get the occupancy permit this week for the apartments. One tenant is looking to move into the building by March 15, he said.

It’s been a longer process for the remodel than expected, Gerbitz said. Weather delays and a change in the layout of the apartments moved the opening date from the fall to later this month.

When the building was first proposed Hendricks worked with Beloit College to see if the top floors could be used for student housing. However, the cost to the students would be higher than what the college was looking for so ultimately the company had to change the layout slightly for normal residential housing, Gerbitz said.

The company planned for the possibility of the college backing out, but there were still some “nuances” that needed to be changed between dorm living and residential apartments, Gerbitz said.

“When you have a college dorm unit we would have one bathroom with four bedrooms,” he said. “Where as that same unit would be two bedrooms and two bathrooms for an apartment. We knew that the decision could come and that we would need to flip. I think we prepared pretty well for it.”

Hendricks does plan to hold a grand opening for the building, but no date has been set as of yet, Gerbitz said