Paying homage to the past with an eye on the future
Renovations underway at old Norby's building
The Norby Flats project is starting to take shape, and people are noticing.
Exterior renovations began a couple weeks ago, with a fence and orange cones placed along the length of the building's Washington Avenue side, as a safety barrier.
Workers took down the old Norby's Department Store sign late last week, and as of this Thursday, they had removed about two-thirds of the upper-level brick facade that has defined the look of the store since 1959.
The changing face of the building is an ongoing reminder of the end of a long era in downtown Detroit Lakes, as the Norby family ran their beloved store there for 112 years before closing up shop this past summer. The renovation project going on now pays homage to that history, and in a way, the building's future is a return to the past.
The property's new owners are restoring the exterior of the building back to its original look of more than a century ago. They're also gutting and completely reworking the space inside so that it can be used in the same way it was back then, with shops along the street level and apartments upstairs.
The owners, operating under the name of Norby Flats, LLP, include four partners, three of whom are associated with Goldmark Commercial Leasing out of Fargo. They're independently developing the Norby Flats project, with Goldmark handling commercial leasing and a separate firm handling the apartment management.
Jim Buus, president and managing broker at Goldmark, said they've been getting more inquiries about Norby Flats since renovations ramped up this spring. They've had "good interest" in the retail spaces, he said, and so far, "we have one committed tenant, in the furthest south storefront."
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