Developers Gant Hill and Jonathan Blue have been mulling over their Molee Building on Muhammad Ali Boulevard between Fourth and Fifth Streets for several years, but now they tell Broken Sidewalk “the project is being moved to the front burner” and we could see construction as soon as next summer.
Hill and Blue plan to convert the five-story building into a mix of apartments and retail appealing to a younger demographic in the heart of Downtown. They have recently been brainstorming with the Downtown Development Corporation about what young professionals value in urban living.
Gant Hill says it’s important to determine the values of the future tenants to keep the project affordable. “There’s no use including granite countertops if that’s not what our tenants want. Maybe they would prefer to have free Internet instead. We don’t want to load up the building with expensive features like doormen.”
Right now, developers hope to add 30–35 apartments ranging from 700 to 800 square feet with rents around one dollar per square foot. To keep costs down, apartment layouts will be simple and arranged around a central light well that Hill said will offer some unique layouts. The team has discussed the project with architects, but hasn’t officially brought one on board.
Built in 1908, the structure originally housed the Young Women’s Club. While the scale and ornament of the Molee Building is more austere than some surrounding buildings, it’s still a solid urban building that can add density to the center of the city and Hill and Blue believe the timing is right to get the project moving.
The Molee Building has been vacant for about four years, but could help to add to the resurgence of Fourth Street and Downtown overall. Imagine a few balconies punched into the east facade overlooking the park. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one.