Developers plan to turn a 133-year-old warehouse, the site of Lincoln’s first wholesale grocery, into a mixed-use building with commercial space on the first floor and three floors of condominiums above.

The brick exterior of the Raymond Brothers building is handsome, but inside, the lack of maintenance is apparent — with warped floors and broken windows, said David Landis, director of the city's Urban Affairs Department.

A redevelopment agreement is moving along rapidly because the building, at 801 O St., might not survive another winter, Landis told the City Council during a hearing Monday afternoon.

A heavy snowstorm could bring down the roof, he said.

Developers Craig Gies and Boyd Batterman expect to spend about $7.2 million on the project and to use another $1.2 million in tax-increment financing, or TIF, to buy the property itself.

The TIF bond would be financed by the additional property tax revenue paid by the developer on the redeveloped property over the next 15 years.

The taxable value of the building is $237,700 and is expected to rise to at least $6.3 million once it's redeveloped.

The project would include more than 8,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space. The upper floors would include about 16 condos, Gies told the council. Condos would range from 875 to 1,393 square feet, with 12- to 13-foot ceilings and a rooftop terrace. 

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The developers plan to restore the exterior of the building and replace the windows, keeping the original look of the building, according to a news release on the project. 

Developers plan to build a dock outside, similar to the one a block away at the Mill Coffee & Tea, Landis said.

The city hopes to bury electrical lines in the alley behind the building, and 12 angled parking stalls would be added to the area. Tenants of the building would also be able to lease parking spaces in the nearby Lumberworks Parking Garage. 

The Raymond Brothers were Lincoln's first wholesale grocers and opened the masonry building in 1885 with a Seaton & Lea cast-iron front, an electric freight elevator and main office rooms of cherry wood, according to accounts by historian Jim McKee.

The building was vacant after the Raymond Brothers' sale to H.P. Lau in 1951. It became the Merchandise Mart, then an annex for Schwarz Paper Co. and more recently was used for storage of construction supplies.

The building is a uniquely significant building in a prominent location, said Ed Zimmer, historian with the city's Planning Department. 

The chance to utilize the building is important to the overall health of the Haymarket area and the transition of development to the south, he said. 

The council is expected to approve the redevelopment agreement and the TIF bond at next Monday’s meeting.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.



Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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