The Legal Arts Building at the corner of 7th and Market streets is undergoing a few renovations. Rumors about this project have been floating around for a while, but as the construction fence goes up and the trees come down, it has become apparent that the major change to the 100,000 square foot building from the sidewalk’s point of view will be paint. A shiny new coat of, wait for it, beige and burgundy.
Renderings floating around in an advertisement in Business First earlier this year (above) suggested some major facade renovations for the mid-century monster that brought emphasis to the street level and the central entrance. Later these renderings disappeared and news emerged that Jaytee Properties Limited, a family partnership of Steve Trager, bought the building with plans to renovate the property. Trager is chairman and CEO of Republic Bank and Trust Company headquartered a block away at 6th and Market Streets. His group plans to rename the Legal Arts Building the Republic Plaza (despite the clear lack of any type of plaza).
Early news reports listed the proposed renovation at over $5 million, but that number has since been reduced to well below the $5 mil range. The bulk of the cost is in window replacement but a new glow-in-the-dark sign will also be located at the top of the building on an enlarged cornice. The famous statue sitting at the entrance to the building for as long as anyone can remember will be removed and a BS tipster reveals it may end up at the zoo with a few “modifications”—most likely a few fig leaves over the naked couple flying in mid air to make it “child safe.” The design work has been done by Luckett & Farley.
Below are photos of the current building proposal and the former building proposal and the disappearing statue trick, before and after. Bottom line: the building is ugly. No paint and plastic renovation can change that. This renovation can, however, help to push the civic center of downtown forward towards more new development and renovation.