SIOUX CITY — The only remaining sign of the former Mac Behrs Sports Bar is prominently displayed in the break room of FEH Design, which shares a portion of the space that once housed the Historic Fourth Street nightclub.
The 18,000-square-foot two-story red brick building at 1201 Fourth St. was gutted after Mac Behrs closed in May 2014.
Most reminders of its previous existence were removed, with the exception of a glass sign that once welcomed patrons to the dance floor that reads “Uncle Stinky’s Booze O Rama.”
“It was still here when we got here and I thought, ‘We have got to use that somewhere,'" said Ron Speckmann, a vice president at FEH Design. “So we put it in our breakroom.”
Creative design choices like that can be found all over FEH Design’s new second-floor office space as well as in that of its first-floor neighbor, Ave Medical Laser Spa.
After Mac Behrs closed, the building sat empty until the two unlikely businesses partnered last year to breathe new life into the structure.
FEH Design is an architecture, structural engineering and interior design firm, while Ave Medical Laser Spa is a business that does everything from cosmetic surgery to skin rejuvenation treatments.
Speckmann said the unlikely pairing came about after both companies were searching for new offices.
FEH had been housed in the Pioneer Bank Building in downtown Sioux City since 1973, but the company had been on the hunt for its own space since 2010.
“We looked at existing buildings around downtown, we made offers on existing buildings downtown, but couldn’t come to an agreement,” Speckmann said. “We bought a vacant lot downtown and were looking at building new there but that didn’t work out successfully for us."
After years of unsuccessful attempts, Speckmann said they almost partnered on a building with Henjes Conner & Williams P.C., which handles FEH’s corporate accounting needs, but the firm went in another direction.
However, a CPA from there suggested FEH contact Dr. Paula Hicks, who co-owns Ave with Deb Hoesing, a registered nurse by trade.
At the time, Ave was located inside the Call Terminal Building, also on Historic Fourth Street, and Ave office manager Stacy Mousel said the business had outgrown the space after eight years there.
“We did research to try to find what was going to be our best location,” she said. “We obviously wanted to stay central and we really didn’t want to move — we loved our space we were in; we just needed more.”
In November 2016, Speckmann reached out to Hicks, who had already been eyeing the former nightclub as a new home for Ave.
“She doesn’t need the whole building, we don’t need this whole building so we said to them, if we buy this thing, they can be on the lower level and we can be on the second floor,” Speckmann said. “In February of 2017, the building was bought.”
Ave had construction crews building its new spa a month after the deal closed and it was able to open up its new medical spa in August.
Hicks and Hoesing came up with the design concept — with a little assistance from FEH — that staffers describe as warm, modern, cozy and classy.
"We don't want it to be like a medical office; we want it to be relaxing and a spa atmosphere but still have the medical professionalism," Mousel said.
The new Ave has 11 treatment rooms, a women’s locker room featuring a steam room, a vibrant public waiting area, a private waiting lounge, office space, a break room, a laundry room and storage space.
Acquiring more space rather than having an impressive looking office is what Mousel likes best about the new Ave.
“Having more rooms to be able to provide treatments in, more working space where we can pay attention to more details of our charts and the organization of our office,” she said. “Honestly, that’s the best part — just having the space.”
So far, feedback from clients has been positive, Mousel noted.
"They love it," she said. "They said they have a lot more privacy, there's a lot more room and it's still as comfortable as the other place."
FEH officially moved into its new office Dec. 4. While Ave’s floor is laid out to emphasize patient privacy and comfort, FEH went with an open office concept and a contemporary aesthetic.
“For us, because of the way we work and we usually work in teams and there’s a lot of collaboration in the type of work we do, an open office works better for us,” Speckmann said. “We can literally talk over the wall to our team members and we have areas where we have large table areas where we can lay out drawings and get a team around the table and collaborate and solve architectural problems.”
In addition to being open, FEH used its new office as an opportunity to showcase what its team of architects and designers can do, which Speckmann said also gives them a sense of ownership over the space.
The office features a lot of natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, electric adjustable desks, exposed ductwork in some areas and lots of purple tones — FEH’s primary brand color.
There are also several unique LED lighting fixtures throughout the space. In the conference room, there are hanging T-bar light fixtures that resemble a slightly pulled apart number sign.
Above one of the collaborative workspaces, LED lights are built directly into the grid kit that holds the ceiling tiles together, which sort of resembles the trails left behind by the light cycles from the sci-fi classic “Tron.”
FEH has been in Sioux City for 60 years and had a hand in creating some of the city’s most iconic venues, including the Tyson Events Center, the Ho-Chunk Centre, the renovation of the Orpheum Theatre, and multiple education and municipal buildings.
However, during most of its six-decade presence in the city, FEH lived a nomadic lifestyle. Speckmann is glad that chapter has ended and that FEH has a pretty nice office to show for it.
"We kind of use our space as a showpiece for our clients," he said.