After closing the sale Monday, an old Coca-Cola sign was unearthed Thursday on the north side of the former Ottawa Antique Mall building. It was just the beginning of restoring the more than 80-year-old, iconic building on the corner of Second and Walnut streets.
“It’s going to be an event space for Ottawa,” Melinda Heyn, the event manager for the space, said. “The interior is going to be like a rustic and industrial style that is unique and elegant to Ottawa. We’re going to offer basically everything from weddings to corporate functions to birthday parties, showers of sorts, fundraising events.”
On a tour Friday, tile, carpet, old lighting and drop ceilings were being ripped out by Wiseguys Construction, who is handling the remodeling process, of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant, 202 S. Walnut St., Ottawa, to expose concrete floors, an original storefront, original brick, wood ceilings and exposed ductwork, all waiting to be polished and cleaned for a new event space.
“We are preserving the old building and there will be things seen that haven’t been seen there in 50 years,” Bill Crowley, Wiseguys Construction, said.
Heyn, along with local investors, plans to add chandeliers, new ductwork and new paint, new windows and doors including sliding barn doors, as well as reconfigure some of the space in the two-story building. The current metal, green storefront on the east side of the building is also set to be removed.
“We’re going to leave that storefront up until we get the new windows and doors and stuff in so when we take that old storefront off, you’ll be like ‘Oh.’ You’ll drive by it and be like ‘that’s super cool,’” Jason Maxwell, Wiseguys Construction, said.
In January, longtime Ottawa Antique Mall owner, Mitch Rorabaugh, listed the building for sale after 20 years in the same location.
“I don’t use as much of it as I used to,” Rorabaugh said previously, referencing an antique soda fountain that used to be housed in the building and an expanded inventory.
“Those were some good days when it seemed like everybody had a little extra money to spend on things,” Rorabaugh said previously. “Things are a little tougher these days and collectors aren’t as active as they used to be.”
At the time of closing, the business was only using a fraction of the 17,000-square-foot building, according to Herald archives.
The new space — which was chosen for its size and the availability of parking with two city lots and one with the building — will use at least 8,500 of those square feet to cater to the needs of anywhere from 50 to 500 people, Heyn said.
“We were kind of in the dark and Melinda was like, ‘Man, we really need one in Ottawa,’” Maxwell said. “Now that we’ve been telling people, the first thing out of their mouth is, ‘Yes. There’s nowhere to do anything.’”
Originally, the investors heard rumors the building was going to be a brewery, which they considered, they said. They said they are still pursuing the possibility of having a restaurant and brewery also in the building, similar to Freestate Brewery in Lawrence, but wanted to get the event center up and running first.
The group plans to have the new space ready for events by Dec. 1 and already have several bookings, Heyn said.
“It’s going to be a great, great thing for Ottawa,” Heyn said.
For more information on the new event space, contact Heyn at (303) 453-9709.
Kate Shelton is a Herald staff writer. Email her at email@example.com Follow her on Twitter at @kshelton323