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Workers have begun closing in the 90,000-square-foot Whirligig Station apartment complex taking shape within the 122-year-old Hi Dollar tobacco warehouse.
“We call it drying it in,” said Lewis “Buddy” Waskey, site manager for the redevelopment project being undertaken by Waukeshaw Development.
A series of large arched openings 8-feet-wide by 9-feet-tall are being filled with expansive glass assemblies called “storefronts.”
Seven of them overlook Kenan Street and the adjacent Farmers Warehouse and Public Tire Warehouse.
Two of the arched glass storefronts will include doorways joining a space dividing a restaurant and a patio on the side of the building overlooking the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park across Goldsboro Street.
The restaurant will be along the Goldsboro Street side of the building along with the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park museum and visitor center and a lobby with public restrooms.
Some 75 high-end apartments are on the ground floor, while 19 are being constructed in the basement.
Waskey said a planned retail space has been eliminated, which resulted in the enlargement of some apartment units.
“We ended up with four apartments a lot bigger by taking out that retail,” Waskey said.
About 70 sash windows are being installed in 9-foot-tall gaps around the entire building that fills most of a block between Goldsboro and Tarboro streets along Kenan Street. The work is being done by John Ellis at Wilson Glass & Mirror.
Abbitt Hoffman, site supervisor, said installation of the windows will help make the building more airtight and will keep moisture from entering as well as serving to secure the building.
“We can move forward with Sheetrock and start doing the interior work,” Hoffman said.
Waskey said the biggest milestone in the project was completing the roof a few months ago.
“When the roof was complete, we were weathered in,” Waskey said. “You stop the deterioration then when the roof goes on.”
Putting on the roof was not the challenge, he said.
“The challenge was fixing the building and repairing it structurally so the roofer could put it on,” Waskey said.
Electric and plumbing are largely completed.
“On Monday, the HVAC is starting, so it will start coming together pretty quick,” Waskey said. “We’ll get Sheetrock hung and start painting walls and putting down floors and putting in cabinets.”
Waskey said Sheetrock installers will begin in one end of the building and move to the other, which may take more than a month.
“We’ll be hanging Sheetrock up to the last minute,” Waskey said.
A few of the wide window spaces will be left open for materials and equipment to be brought through the openings.
“There is a whole apartment we left out so we can bring the equipment in,” Waskey said.
That unit will be among the last projects to be finished.
Completion date for the $12 million redevelopment project is Dec.15.