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Historic downtown building receives facelift both inside and out

GRANDVIEW - For many people the idea of taking on the refurbishment of a 15,000 square foot building that was first built in 1911 and now serves as an apartment building and retail space might be seen as too large a task. However, on Feb. 2 that is the exact task that taken on by Prosser resident Lynn Boast.

Boast purchased the Iowa building in downtown Grandview just a little more than five weeks ago, and since making the purchase has jumped into the project with both feet.

"I think this building has a lot of potential," Boast said.

The building is a two-story brick structure located on Division Street in Grandview. According to the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, it was built in 1911 with two large retail spaces on the main floor and offices located upstairs. In 1937, the offices were transformed into apartments. As for the retail spaces on the main floor, they have housed everything from a billiard hall to the community library, which moved into the building in 1914.

Boast, who calls himself a history buff, said it has been interesting to work on a building with so much of its own history.

In fact, Grandview Mayor Mike Bren said he can remember as a child going door-to-door in the upstairs apartments selling everything from candy to greeting cards. He said his fourth grade teacher used to live in the downtown building.

Bren said it's encouraging to see someone come into the community and make an investment in the downtown area.

Boast said since purchasing the building a lot of work has already been done. He noted that he has already taken nine large truck loads of garbage out of the building and to the dump, including the old carpet from one of the retail spaces that is not currently rented out.

He said taking the carpet out of the retail space meant not only taking the carpet out, but also the other layers of various flooring that had been installed during the course of the building's history.

Boast said one of the first things he did when obtaining the building, which is made up of a basement, main floor and second floor, each 5,000 square feet in size, was to scrub down the walls and start painting everything white.

"We've already put an enormous amount of paint into it," Boast said. "But I feel like I'm just getting started."

Painting isn't the only work that has gone on the past five weeks. Boast has also updated the building's electrical system, replacing all of the fuse boxes with circuit breaker panels. He said a new heating system will also be installed in the building, as well as new carpet and linoleum.

As for the refurbishment of the upstairs apartments, Boast said he is working on those two at a time. Boast explained that of the 10 apartments, two of them are not currently rented, which is why he started work on those two spaces first. He said he plans on working on the apartments two at a time, having the residents shift into the updated apartments as they are completed.

When it comes to the apartments, of which there are six studios, two one-bedrooms and two two-bedrooms, a lot of work is being done to renovate the spaces.

Walking through one of the studio apartments, Boast pointed out the freshly painted walls, the new bathtub/shower combination in the bathroom, as well as where the new bathroom sink and toilet will be installed.

Boast said the refurbishment will mean that all of the apartments will in time have showers, which is something they haven't had in the past. In fact, Boast said many of the apartments still have claw-foot bathtubs.

He said the small kitchen will also receive some updates, including a new backsplash, countertop and flooring. In the main living space of the studio apartment, Boast pointed to the large windows and explained that they will be updated, and new flooring and light fixtures will also be installed.

Overall, Boast said he has been happy to see the cooperation and excitement about the project coming from the people who currently live in the building.

"What's amazed me most is not the building, but the cooperation from everyone," Boast said.

On the main floor of the building, Boast has been working hard to update the retail space that is currently open. The space has 16 1/2 foot pressed tin ceilings, as well as a large loft in the back of the building. Going up into the loft it is possible to get an upclose look at the intricate pattern pressed into the tin tiles.

All in all, Boast said he feels all of the work that has been done has been a move in the right direction. However, there is still a lot of work to be completed. Boast said he is planning on having someone come in to work on the exterior of the building, as well.

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