Cormac McGarvey built a three-story office building on Newcastle Street in downtown Brunswick in 2002 under the mistaken belief that businesses would be eager to occupy space there.
It never came close to meeting expectations, and it wasn’t long before the building was empty.
“That didn’t work out. You couldn’t give them away,” he said of office space in the building.
Now, McGarvey is renovating the building, which he estimates will cost about $200,000, and he is confident his new business plan will be successful.
He is converting the building into a 10-unit efficiency apartment complex that should be completed in about six weeks.
Downtown merchants believe a key to their continued success is for more housing downtown. McGarvey’s belief in the resurgence downtown is one reason he decided to renovate the building.
“I think downtown Brunswick is coming back,” he said.
For much of the time the building has stood on the 1700 block of Newcastle street, McGarvey had no paying occupants, but squatters managed to break into the building and make themselves at home without his knowledge.
“The place was just abandoned,” he said.
Workers are now in the process of removing the old furniture, mattresses, clothing and other debris left behind before the final preparations are completed to make the building ready for new occupants to move in.
After the building is cleaned out, the bathrooms will be completed, molding trim will be added, and kitchen cabinets and new appliances installed. Each efficiency unit will also have new tile, carpeting and a fresh coat of paint.
“It will look real nice when it’s completed,” he said.
The tabby walls on the exterior blend in nicely with other downtown buildings and the building is capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds up to 150 mph, he said.
“The tabby just blends in,” he said.
Another feature the tenants will like is the thick floors which means those living on the lower floors won’t hear their upstairs neighbors walking or doing chores.
“There should be no noise issues,” he said.
Other work that will be completed before it is occupied includes landscaping and cosmetic improvements.
McGarvey said he plans to rent the one- and two-room efficiencies for around $700 a month and he already has a waiting list. He plans to run background checks on all tenants before he signs a lease with them.
“I know it’s going to do well,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
One of the building occupants will be a full-time maintenance worker to ensure any problems are dealt with in a timely manner.
Rob Bryant, a maintenance worker for another efficiency apartment complex owned by McGarvey, is helping with the renovations in the new building. His background is as a professional painter and he is confident the new tenants will like their new home.
“We have no problem renting our efficiencies,” he said. “This is a prime location.”