Members of the Menominee Historic District Commission toured Lloyd House I on 1st Street in Menominee Tuesday along with a representative of Woda, the general contractor, and subcontractors, including Erickson Plastering Inc. The former FNT Building is being renovated into a 44-unit apartment complex for low- to moderate-income residents. The $12 million project should be completed in early 2014. EagleHerald/Mike Desotell
Members of the Menominee Historic District Commission toured Lloyd House I on 1st Street in Menominee Tuesday along with a representative of Woda, the general contractor, and subcontractors, including Erickson Plastering Inc. The former FNT Building is being renovated into a 44-unit apartment complex for low- to moderate-income residents. The $12 million project should be completed in early 2014. EagleHerald/Mike Desotell
MENOMINEE - A metamorphosis is taking place in the heart of Menominee's Historic District, a transformation many thought would never happen. For months, contractors have been renovating, restoring and repurposing the former FNT Building.

The old fish net company pulled out decades ago, leaving the four-story structure dormant. Plaster began falling off the building, windows were broken and emergency measures had to be put in place for public safety.

Today, crews are working on every level of the building inside and out so that in just a few short months, the community will have a brand-new, 44-unit apartment complex for low- to moderate-income families. There will also be retail space at street level and underground parking for residents.

Tuesday, a couple members of the Menominee Downtown Historic District Commission toured Lloyd House I.

"This building is coming along beautifully. It's phenomenal, it's so encouraging," said commission chair Pat Johnson. "All of the organized spaces like the tall ceilings and the views all around the building are just great."

There's not much a lot of hard work and $12 million can't accomplish. The project was developed by the Woda Group with assistance from the state of Michigan. Company leaders were able to do what many others tried to do but failed - turn a vision into a reality.

"The people who were negative before have been walking up to us and saying, 'that looks fabulous,' said Johnson. "We're so excited and we're waiting for people to move in and add to our downtown."

Construction crews inside are working from the top floor down. Much of the interior framing has been completed but it will still be a while before anyone can fill out a change-of-address card.

"I met Tuesday for the first time with the group that's going to manage the building," said Nancy Douglas, director, Menominee Business Development Corp. "We talked about these sorts of issues and when we will be able to let the public know how to get hold of them, how to apply for apartments. I would say by the 1st of November, we will have an 800 number in place and a way for folks to get in touch."

While Woda is the general contractor for the project, the company has hired many local contractors.

"We're happy to see Woda utilizing so many local contractors and we're excited to be part of such a unique project," said Marsha Streeter Rettke of Erickson Plastering Inc.

Streeter, her business partner Kandi Erickson-Anderla and 15-person crew, are the ones you can compliment for restoring the façade to the way it was when it was built more than 80 years ago.

"You have ones that do the demo work and the cleaning, then you have the ones who do the heavy fill and the ones who are coming in and actually making the pieces look pretty," said Erickson-Anderla.

"She's being too humble," said Woda vice president/director of field operations Kevin Banks. "If you take a look at it, before and after, it's just incredible. She has some craftsmen who put this together that hardly anyone else in this area could be able to do."

Banks said the project is just a bit ahead of schedule. Crews are hanging and finishing drywall on the fourth floor, hanging drywall on the third and should have most of the interior wrapped up by the end of the year.

In addition to Lloyd House I, Woda is also working on Lloyd House II, which is located in the former Oddfellows Building immediately to the south of Lloyd House I. That project is listed at just over a million dollars and is expected to be aimed at senior living.

Woda and the city have entered into a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) agreement. In effect it gives WODA assurance for the next 30 years that it will pay a specific rate, something it needed to accomplish in order to meet state guidelines for funding.

"It will not be anything less than the city's already getting, probably a little bit more," explained Douglas. "We also get a building that's historically preserved and that's the real win for the city."