Editor's note: This article has been edited to reflect that the future location of the Ben Franklin Market had previously been a five and dime store.
BROOKINGS – An ambitious build is underway in downtown Brookings.
At 420 Main Ave., Kind Properties is working to restore the space most recently held by Angel’s Attic into something like its original appearance, though with a more modern take and an additional two stories that would contain 22 studio apartments.
Demo work is already underway in the interior of the approximately 6,000 square feet of space between the joined buildings, and construction is expected to begin Sept. 15. Brookings Built Green and Kind Properties owner Dusten Hendrickson expects all of the work to be done by the summer of 2019.
Hendrickson is working with architect Angela Boersma on the project, who’s also a member of the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission.
“We wanted an architect that understood what we needed to do so that it fit with the historical nature because we care about the historical nature,” Hendrickson said.
In another nod to the site’s history, the building that will have the two stories added and will host a vendor market was first home to a Ben Franklin five and dime store, and that will be reflected by its new name: the Ben Franklin Market.
A lot of the renovation and restoration work being done inside and out will bring it back much closer to its original appearance. Big storefront windows will be installed, and they’ll put up a sign that looks like the one that originally hung at the front of the building.
Another welcome change that he says has largely gone unnoticed is the removal of “one of the ugliest awnings in town.”
“Most of these historical buildings, we strip them down to their bare bones and all we do basically is take off all the junk that people have added to them over the years to make it work for their space. We find that when you strip it down and what the original use was, they’re much better buildings,” Hendrickson said.
The 22 studio apartments will each have about 400 square feet to them.
“They’re going to have a warm, contemporary finish that has industrial tones throughout,” Hendrickson said.
The units will feature large windows, hard surface tops and high-end appliances, and rent will cost about $700 as currently planned.
Even though the additional two floors will be the most visible change, there are big plans for the first floor, which will be divided into two halves.
One half will house the community commercial kitchen. It’ll be equipped with everything a commercial kitchen needs: commercial burners, gas stove, double ovens, a fryer, griddle, three-bay wash sink, and a flash freezer are all expected.
Hendrickson said that the Brookings Economic Development Corporation is partnering with them on this and will help to provide equipment and training.
The BEDC last month announced it had received a $91,000 USDA Rural Business Development Grant to help create a commercial kitchen at 420 Main Ave. and implement a technical assistance program to assist the efforts of area food entrepreneurs.
This space will be able to provide many people in the community a proper space to make food that they can sell, since there are strict regulations about selling food made at home.
Beyond that, the commercial kitchen will be able to host events, too, such as featuring chefs and hosting dinners or cooking classes.
Tables and chairs for what Hendrickson called a family-style eating area will be available. A large table able to sit 20 people will be there so that large groups can come in and eat at one table. Smaller tables will also be available. These could also be moved to the side or put to different uses such as displaying wares.
“It’s just about trying to create local entrepreneurship and give the community another chunk of culture, another thing to do, another thing to bring the community even closer than we already are, get more people involved and take the risk away. We’re basically taking all the risk out of any idea that they have,” Hendrickson said.
They’re still working on figuring out rates for the use of the community kitchen, though Hendrickson did say they’d like to keep it under $50.
“We want to encourage everyone in the community to use it. You want to cook and try to cook your thing in a commercial kitchen … and sell it? That’s exactly what we want to promote. We want to promote more local products, more local foods, more local entrepreneurship,” Hendrickson said.
The other half of the building will also cater to entrepreneurs, though in a different way. It’ll serve as a flexible vendor space, where people can set up a booth to sell their wares. By no means does it have to be food related, since it’s not necessarily done in conjunction with the community commercial kitchen.
People could be free to sell a variety of products there: maybe glassware in one booth and homemade cards in the next booth. Although vendors don’t have to use the community kitchen, the two halves could work together for some great opportunities.
Hendrickson likes the idea that if a lot of people come because of one vendor’s products, it could help draw attention to other vendors in the building, too, giving their work good exposure.
The idea of incorporating a vendor space is relatively new to his plans for the building, so some new questions vendors might have are still coming up.
“We haven’t hammered out all the details, but we know the concept, and we know that we want to get people on the list because we do feel that by the time it opens, all the vendor space will have been spoken for,” Hendrickson said.
Although also being finalized, plans are to have vendor space start at $100 a month.
For anybody interested in having a vendor spot, email is the preferred contact, at [email protected] Otherwise, phone calls can be directed to Kelan Bludorn at 690-7772.
Contact Eric Sandbulte at [email protected].
Register photo: The former Angel’s Attic building in downtown Brookings will be transformed to the Ben Franklin Market and a commercial kitchen. Currently in the middle of demolition work, owner Dusten Hendrickson expects the building to open in summer 2019. By then, another two floors will have been added to the Ben Franklin building to accommodate 22 studio apartments.