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Nelson Construction buys Benson Building for $350,000
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Nelson Construction buys Benson Building for $350,000

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Benson Building exterior

The Benson Building, 705 Douglas St., has been sold to Nelson Construction & Development. The developer is hoping to get apartments, office space and retail in the historic brick structure. 

SIOUX CITY -- A Sioux City developer has purchased the historic Benson Building at the corner of Douglas and Seventh streets. 

Nelson Construction & Development, the property's new owner, is planning to "breathe new life into" the six-story brick and terra cotta structure built in 1920, according to a press release from the firm. 

The sale price was $350,000, according to county sales records. 

Steve Nelson, the head of Nelson Construction, said the firm is in the process of having the building, 705 Douglas St., registered as an Iowa historic building.

The plan is to return the building to its 1920s-1930s glory, Nelson said, preserving original elements of the building wherever possible. The firm has the original planning documents used during the building's construction a century ago, which could be something of a roadmap for a historically accurate restoration. 

"You'll see a lot of restoration, not necessarily new things added," Nelson said. 

Nelson said the firm is in talks with a retailer as a tenant for the lower floor, which he said would "really supplement the downtown." 

Floors three through six, he said, will probably be apartments, while the second floor and the remainder of the first floor would be office space. The first floor, the only part of the building that currently has occupants, is about 80 percent filled at present, he said. 

The building's basement could become an underground parking garage, which would complement the property's adjacent surface parking lot. 

The possibility of a rooftop patio with a view of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is also under consideration, according to the press release. 

Interior work on the building, Nelson said, could start within the next 60 days or so, with more construction beginning possibly in September or October. From the time construction starts, Nelson estimated it could be 12 to 14 months until apartments are leased. 

The Benson Building is situated within the boundaries of a newly created federal "Opportunity Zone," a part of the 2017 tax law which provides tax advantages for owners of properties in areas considered economically distressed.

This is the second time the Benson has been sold in less than two years. In the fall of 2018 it was purchased by Warnock Development for $150,000. In the years before that sale the building was occupied, in part, by an assortment of local artists who were known for their "Benson Burner" art shows. A martial arts business was also housed in the building before the 2018 sale. 

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