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Group renovating older buildings

A local partnership is taking steps to save some old buildings and turn them into something useful.

Pennsy Properties LLC, comprised of John Horell, president of KIZ Resources, Randy Green, part owner of Solarshield, and Brian Irwin, branch manager of Irwin Financial Inc., recently completed renovation of the former Altoona Artificial Limb and Appliance Building on Ninth Street and are in the process of renovating the former F.A. Winter & Son Music Store building on the 1400 block of 11th Avenue.

“John and Randy have taken a project in downtown Altoona and turned it into something good. Too many times people like to demolish old buildings rather than see if the existing building can be turned into something beautiful,” Blair County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Joe Hurd said at the 500th Chamber Breakfast Club Thursday at The Casino at Lakemont Park.

Horell said he has seen other communities restore historic buildings, so he knew it could be done here.

“We don’t want to turn (a building back into) what it was. The goal is to restore the building,” Horell said.

Green said the first step is to acquire a property before moving into planning, demolition, rehab/construction and leasing.

“What I do is approach people and start with an option to buy and make a down payment. Then I get in and look at the beams and structural issues. I don’t want to buy a building and find out I will not be able to rehab it. This is the most important part of the process,” Green said.

The next steps involve talking to an architect and a bank, getting estimates from plumbers, electricians and other professionals and then putting together a business plan for the project, Green said.

“We then determine if it is a building we can make happen,” Green said.

Green said it can be fun to rehabilitate older buildings.

“It is tough meshing construction of the 1900s and the materials we have today. You have to make it work. It is fun to try and put new materials into older buildings so it blends in,” Green said.

The Artificial Limb and Appliance building is completely leased.

The Winter building, which is expected to house a combination of apartments and commercial space, is in the demolition stage and drawing a lot of interest, Horell said.

The next project will be rehabilitation of the former Standard Supply and Equipment building, 2101 Beale Ave., which will be turned into apartments. That project is to be completed and ready to lease by the end of September.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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