HOLDREGE — A downtown Holdrege building that began as a hotel in the early 20th century is being transformed into luxury apartments.
Chanse and Cristina Beinke of Loomis, owners of Smart Choice Management, purchased the building at 201 West Ave. in October 2018. After a complete remodel, Iron Horse Flats will feature 18 apartments.
Records from the Phelps County Historical Society indicate the building stood at the corner across from the Holdrege train depot as early as 1905.
“It was built like a boarding house for the train station. To people who got off the train, it was like sleeping rooms basically,” said Chanse.
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The building first was known as the Evans Hotel. It was a wood structure covered in sheet iron. In 1918, the owners of the property added a three-story brick building to the business. In 1926, the building had 50 rooms with 12 having showers and nine with bathtubs. Through the decades the building had a variety of owners, renovations and names including Madsen Hotel, The Westernaire and Holdrege Heights. It also operated as a bus stop for Continental Trailways and eventually was transformed from a hotel to an apartment building.
When the Beinkes purchased the building, they didn’t realize how much work the structure would need.
“We didn’t realize it was in as bad shape as it was. We bought it as a light remodel. That led to a complete gut. Everything was torn out of the building. Everything is new: plumbing, heating, electrical, framing,” Chanse explained.
Smart Choice Management was awarded a GO! DREAM grant from the Phelps County Development Corporation for the project. The GO! DREAM program encourages downtown improvements by giving building owners the resources they need to restore historic buildings with an emphasis on creating downtown living units.
Iron Horse Flats will have one studio, nine one-bedroom, five two-bedroom and three three-bedroom apartments.
There will be 10-foot ceilings, granite countertops, hardwood flooring, high-efficiency appliances and custom trim and cabinets in each apartment. The apartments are pet friendly, and residents will have access to a fenced, private green space featuring a dog park and barbecue grills.
“It’s something you would see in like Omaha or Denver downtown. Holdrege doesn’t have anything like this,” Chanse said.
The project still is under construction, but Chanse tentatively plans to begin leasing apartments in December. He’s hopeful that Iron Horse Flats will spur more downtown living and businesses in Holdrege.
“If we can get housing downtown, we can eventually bring in more restaurants. Some of the buildings that aren’t being used right now could be remodeled and (bring in) more shops,” he said.