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Bracing and embracing

Indigo Properties owner Carolyn Hedin (right) and general manager Sharon Neils oversee the restoration of 329 Main St. in hopes of housing a future retail tenant. Without Neils’ administrative help, Hedin said that she would have not been able to take on another downtown restoration. (Republican Eagle photo by Amanda Greenwood)

Indigo Properties owner Carolyn Hedin says the renovation of 329 Main St. is right on schedule, and she hopes to have its interior finished by fall.

Located at the corner of Bush and Main, the site is optimal for a future retail business, she said, and Indigo Properties will look to find the right tenant within the year.

The once long, narrow space is being doubled in size, as Red Wing Construction works to remove a brick load-bearing wall between the recently purchased space at 329 Main and the Indigo Room at 325 Main.

Three heavy metal beams will replace the brick wall. Due to their size, the beams need to be guided through a window facing Main Street in order to be installed.

Hedin highlighted how the future open floor plan will be conducive to retail. Also, the finished basement offers vast storage space.

“We are doubling the footprint,” Indigo Properties General Manager Sharon Neils said. “Finished, it will have 2,000 square feet on the main floor and 1,000 in the basement.”

She also mentioned that Indigo Properties is entertaining future tenant inquiries.

“We are open to people talking with us and sharing their vision,” Neils said.

If finished without a tenant secured, the building will open and operate temporarily as the Indigo Room.

Since its beginning in 1995, Indigo Properties has restored several downtown buildings from the ground up and established good tenants, according to Hedin.

Previous restorations include 323 and 325 Main St., as well as 205 and 207 Bush St. and the upper two floors of 329 Main St.

Indigo also purchased the Ben Franklin Store at 315-317 Main St. and oversaw the planning for a new facade.  

“It now houses the Red Wing Shoe Store and is owned by Red Wing Shoe Co., who took over the project and completed the restoration,” Hedin said.

Current Indigo tenants include Bluewater Yoga Studio, Red Wing Confectionery, Confluence Marketing, Dr. Jane Lorentzen and Vasque Footwear of the Red Wing Shoe, all located on Main Street. On Bush Street are the offices of Indigo Properties and Whimsy’s Closet.

The yoga studio was Hedin’s first restoration project, which began in 1995. Even though the building had no entrance and hardly a floor to walk across on the upper level, she knew it was the space for her studio.

Standing on just floor joists, she saw the serene views of the bluffs and Mississippi River and knew it was the location she had been looking for to create a studio.

And like the Yoga Studio and other restorations, Hedin said that “the exterior always has a nod to the past.”

The interior offers more flexibility for aesthetically pleasing, decorative touches.

Hedin purchased the lower two floors of 329 Main St. on Feb. 28. Work began the in the basement.

“The building is located in a historic district, so all renovation work respects historic restoration guidelines,” Hedin said.

According to Neils, Indigo Properties’ mantra is “Someone built for the first 125 years; it should be finished for the next 125 years.”

Indigo’s goal of sustainability begins with the building’s foundation. The most important part of the restoration is renovation work that will not be seen by future customers.

Chuck Klair Construction has tuckpointed and repaired compromised mortar around limestone walls, installed new footings and waterproofed the whole lower level.

Built in 1866, the building once had lower level windows, which used to look out to Bush Street.

When Hedin purchased the site, the windows had been filled in with concrete blockes.

“Over the years, the road has been raised,” Hedin said.

Not only were the windows obsolete, they had been source of water damage, which has all been repaired and remedied for the future.

Work will also be done on the main level to repair charred beams due to fire damage, which Hedin said is not uncommon to downtown buildings.

For this and previous projects, Indigo Properties used local contractors for its extensive restorations. The 329 Main St. project includes Glenn Klair Plumbing and Heating, Pomerleau Electric, Ryan Mechanical, Red Wing Construction, Smith Heating and Grant Wulff Construction.

“All are fabulous,” Neils said. “When using local business, it is an invaluable resource.”

Before retirement, Rodney Schmidt Construction was also one of Indigo’s contractors.

“We are more than just paying for a service,” Hedin said, “The quality of work is exceptional.”

One unique aspect of all Indigo’s restored buildings is a stained glass feature created by well-known architect Michaela Mahady and her husband, John Pietras, of Pegasus Studios.

According to Hedin, Mahady and fellow architect Maury Stenersen have done the architectural planning and interior design for each of Indigo’s downtown restorations.

Their work, through SALA Architects, can be found around the country as well as right here in Red Wing at the Anderson Center’s barn.