A new event venue — now open for business — is “bringing to life” a former Coca-Cola bottling plant, its executive director said.

“We’re keeping the original, historic features of the building, but then also updating it and bringing it into today’s time,” Melinda Heyn said.

A year after renovations began, The Bottle House, 202 S. Walnut St., Ottawa, is now accepting rentals for the 10,000-square foot space that can host up to 500 people. The building is also the former Ottawa Antique Mall, and in total is 17,000 square feet.

Heyn, along with local investors who own the property, expected to be open last December, but hit some delays with renovations, according to Herald archives. Renovations have included all-new heating and cooling systems, expanded bathrooms, new paint on the exterior and interior, smoothing and sealing of original concrete floors and state of the art audio/visual sound system and projectors. The expanded women’s bathroom now has six stalls, while the men’s has two stalls and three urinals.

“If you remember it as the antique mall, it’s now very open,” Heyn said. “We also added all new lighting. It’s open and it’s bright. It’s a completely changed space. It’s a total transformation. When it was an antique mall, there were all the different shelves and units, that’s all gone now. You walk in the front door now, and you see the beautiful copper top bar. We’ve got lots of wood pallet features in the building, which really help to warm the space. Brick walls have also been exposed.”

Painting the exterior red was a no-brainer, Heyn said.

“We wanted to keep it kind of similar to what was there because, you know, Coca-Cola, but we didn’t want to go the bright red of Coca-Cola,” she said. “We wanted more of a subdued color.”

They’ve left original Coca-Cola signs, and some of the original limestone on the building.

“We’ve obviously taken off the green metal addition, but we’re putting up a railing so we can create patio seating and an awning,” Heyn said.

On that patio will be two garage-style doors, half-glass, half-metal, that will open up for guests to go in and out.

For rentals, interested parties can get the entire space — about 500 guests — or a smaller space within, which hosts 75 to 100 people, Heyn said. The smaller space would be more geared toward events such as conferences.

“I will have a divider for that area to make it a more intimate feeling,” Heyn said.

At nighttime events, the fully-stocked bar is available for an additional fee.

“We do have our own liquor license, so with that, we do provide the bartenders,” Heyn said.

The Bottle House has preferred caterers that they recommend, however, renters can bring in whomever they like. Those preferred caterers are Smoked Creations, Cosentino’s and ACA Catering.

“We do hope the list will grow a little to offer more to our clients,” Heyn said.

Seventy-two-inch round tables, chairs and tablecloths are included in the rental fee.

The original thought was that it would also be a brewery, but for now, they are focusing on the event space.

“We haven’t completely ruled it out,” Heyn said.

For questions or rentals, contact Heyn at (785) 893-0488. Pricing for The Bottle House can be found online at www.bottlehouseevents.com