Downtown facelift

Marietta’s 113-year-old St. Clair Building is receiving a $1.5 million makeover that will include upscale loft apartments as well as some commercial space, courtesy of Triad Hunter, LLC.

The shale oil and gas exploration and production company moved offices into downtown Marietta in February 2012, less than a block from the St. Clair Building at 216 Putnam St.

“When we first came here we said we intended to become a part of the local community and would be making an investment here,” Jim Denny, Triad Hunter’s president and chief operating officer, said Monday.

He said renovation of the St. Clair Building is one example of that community investment.

The company paid $394,900 for the property, according to the Washington County Auditor’s Office.

“This is just the beginning of the revolution in Utica shale oil and gas development in this area, and we need housing for our people relocating here,” Denny explained. “We’re also seeing other companies moving into the area who have that same need, and can market some of this housing to them.”

The renovation was good news for Marietta Councilman Roger Kalter who earlier this year expressed concerns about the safety of the St. Clair Building, which had sat vacant for more than a decade.

“About three or four years ago glass was dropping out of some of the St. Clair Building’s windows onto the (Washington-Morgan) Community Action building next door,” he said, adding that some people worried that window glass could also fall onto the sidewalk in front of the building.

The windows were repaired, but the building has remained unoccupied until now.

“This is very good news for Marietta,” Kalter said. “We’re thrilled that Triad Hunter has shown interest in renovating that building. And it will be a incredible improvement for downtown Marietta.”

John Jack, vice president of Green Hunter Water, has contracted as a consultant for Triad on the renovation project, and local architect Michael Scott is doing the design work.

Contractor Westfall Construction of Marietta began demolition work on the building within the past week.

“We’re taking everything down to the floor joists to check for anything structurally that may need to be repaired throughout the building,” said Westfall foreman John Shearon.

On Monday crews had already pulled down several walls and dropped ceilings that had been installed over the years by various businesses that were located in the St. Clair Building. The demolition has revealed some of the building’s original 16-feet-high ornate metal ceilings and wood and tile flooring.

“The entire building will be gutted,” Jack said. “Everything will go down to the exterior, and we plan to restore the exterior facing Putnam Street to look as close as possible to the original building.”

When completed the building will house nine loft apartments, ranging in size from 1,000-square-foot one bedroom and single bath units to 2,200 square-foot two bedroom apartments with one full and one half bath.

“The entire building is 25,000 square feet and includes four stories above street level and one story below the street level,” Jack said. “The lower and first floors will be for commercial use, and the three stories above will all be renovated into high-end loft apartments with granite counter tops, upscale cabinetry and energy-efficient HVAC systems and on-demand hot water units.”

He said the target date for completion of the project is the end of February 2014.

Jack noted Westfall Construction also did the renovation work at the Chase Bank Building, 125 Putnam St., where Triad Hunter moved its offices last February.

“Believe it or not, we’re already beginning to stretch our space (at 125 Putnam),” Denny said, adding that some of the company’s offices could be moved into the lower floors of the St. Clair Building once the renovations are completed.

He said the company looked at every available facility in town before making a final decision to renovate the St. Clair Building. Denny added that the company may be looking at more downtown properties in the future.