Sign of the times, progress on Main St.

Craig Compiano got a call one day about a property in Cottage Grove. A musician had been in town scouting locations for a venue that would house a summer series concert when he stumbled upon 522 E. Main Street. The building, part of the city’s downtown historic district and formally known as the Stewart and Porter building, was vacant and had been for more than a year. 

Compiano, who said he enjoys renovating historic buildings, said the building will house eight one-bedroom apartments upstairs while the downstairs space will be available for lease for a business. 

While the grand opening is months away and the building is not currently taking applications for renters, one bit of activity has garnered attention: The old sign that used to hang on the building has been refurbished and was replaced earlier this month. 

“The sign is the first step and most visible step in the project,” Compiano said, noting that the windows on the building’s exterior have also been repaired. He expects that once the exterior is finished, the property management company can begin taking serious lease applications for the space downstairs. 

“We want to retain the flavor of the building,” Compiano said.

The work is being funded, in part, by a grant from the city of Cottage Grove. According to the city’s planning department, the project was awarded a historic renovation grant to refurbish the neon sign that hangs outside the entrance. The grant is awarded annually and is a one to one matching grant.

“They worked with us to find a good contractor,” City Planner Amanda Ferguson said. All work done on the building, under the terms of the grant, must be in compliance with historic renovation practices and the updates and remain for at least five years. 

According to Compiano, no price range for the apartments has been set, other than establishing that they would be considered mid-market units. However, the eight units in the Stewart Porter building are just the start. In the lot behind the building, Compiano said he plans to build additional apartments. He expects apartments to be available for rent at the end of this year, citing the work of local companies such as Stonewood Construction and architect David McClean of DMC architecture. 

“I love restoring old buildings,” he said, speaking to the building sitting empty. “That building, it’s in downtown and it’s like having a pimple on your forehead. You can’t miss it.” 

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