SIOUX CITY | The historic Commerce Building will be converted into 76 apartments, retail space and modern offices under a $14.6 million renovation plan for the 105-year-old downtown Sioux City structure.

The same Council Bluffs, Iowa-based developer also plans to rehabilitate the 1924 building that served as the original Methodist Hospital at 2831 Douglas St. into 60 market-rate apartments through a separate project valued at $12 million.

J Development Co. LLC will seek a combined $1.5 million in state tax credits from the Iowa Economic Development Board Friday to help finance the two historic redevelopment projects. 

Also on Friday, the state board will consider nearly $913,000 of tax credits for the previously announced project planned by Restoration St. Louis to renovate the historic Warrior Hotel and adjacent Davidson Building into a 146-room Marriott Hotel, retail and living space. 

J Development's $14.6 million redevelopment of the Commerce Building at 520 Nebraska St. will include a total rehabilitation of the five-story building and a conversion from office space to a mixed-use property, according to IEDA documents.

The first floor will be used for both commercial and residential purposes, with floors two through five designated as market-rate apartments. The project is expected to create 76 living units and 10,000 to 15,000 feet of commercial space. 

The $12.1 million redevelopment of the former hospital into 60 market-rate apartment units will include removal of asbestos and other environmental contaminants, according to IEDA documents. 

The state board at its monthly meeting Friday in Des Moines will consider awarding a Brownfield tax credit valued at up to $750,000 for the Commerce Building project, contingent upon submission of financing commitment letters within six months of the board's approval date. 

The board will consider a Grayfield tax credit for the former Methodist Hospital project valued at up to $750,000, also contingent upon the submission of financing commitments within that time frame. 

The Warrior/Davidson redevelopment, made public this summer, will seek a Grayfield tax credit on Friday of up to $912,665 for the renovation of the Warrior and Davidson buildings in the 500 block of Sixth Street.

The city of Sioux City has scheduled a 11 a.m. Friday news conference to formally announce the Commerce Building project. J Development representatives declined comment Thursday. 

The Commerce Building was originally built in 1912 by the C.F. Lytle Co. as the Ralph A. Bennett's Motor Mart Building, according to the Sioux City Historic Preservation Commission. The four-story building housed his auto supply company and included a 10-by-20-foot freight elevator to lift automobiles for display on the upper stories of the structure. 

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Commerce Building

This undated photo shows the Commerce Building located at 520 Nebraska St. in Sioux City. The C.F. Lytle Co. built this structure in 1913 as the Motor Mart for Bennett Auto Supply.

In 1919, the Sioux City Chamber of Commerce moved its offices to the building, which eventually became commonly known as the Commerce Building.

A fifth floor was added in 1921 and housed Tom Archer’s Roof Garden. It later became a music hall and dance club called the Skylon Ballroom. Lawrence Welk and his band performed there in 1939 before he signed with Decca. The building also served as the home of the Sioux City Art Center from 1953 until 1961, when the center moved into the Municipal Auditorium. 

Several recent tenants of the building, including the Yoga College of Sioux City, several studio artists and the Disabilities Resource Center, have told the Journal over the past few months they have moved out of the premises. Existing tenants include a field office for Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King.

The former Methodist Hospital became a part of UnityPoint Health -- St. Luke's campus when the Methodist and Lutheran hospitals merged in 1966 to form St. Luke's. 

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methodist hospital

The former Methodist Hospital is pictured above. A Council Bluffs, Iowa-based developer is planning a $12 million renovation to the 1924 structure that will transform it into 60 market-rate apartments.

The Methodist hospital -- which became known as St. Luke's West Building -- served as a maternity ward until 1979 when St. Luke's moved its birthing unit to the current hospital. In later years, the former Methodist hospital housed Meals on Wheels, hospital business offices and the county morgue. The hospital closed the aging building, the oldest structure on its campus, in September 2005. It has remained empty ever since. 

St. Luke's spokeswoman Suzie Fischer told the Journal Thursday afternoon the property is still owned by the hospital, pending the closing of the sale. 

Under plans announced this summer, St. Louis-based Restoration St. Louis will restore the historic Warrior Hotel and Davidson Building in the 600 block of Sixth Street. As part of a $57.1 million plan, the 200,000 square feet of combined space will be turned into a 146-room Marriott brand hotel, retail space and apartments.

The Warrior will become a full-service hotel with a six-lane bowling alley, bar, swimming pool and full fitness center. The first-floor lobby will include retail space and a full-service restaurant. The second floor will include a grand lobby, ballroom and conference rooms, with floors three through 10 including 92 hotel rooms. The rooftop will hold a bar and bistro. 

The neighboring Davidson Building will also be renovated to include commercial space on the first floor, 54 hotel rooms on floors two through four, and 22 luxury apartments on floors five and six. 

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2018, with completion anticipated for summer of 2019.

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City hall reporter

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