But inside, it’s a different story.
Since Habitat acquired the 1890 building last November, plans have been in the works to convert the large barrel section of the structure into the Habitat ReStore showroom. The interior renovations kicked into high gear at the first of the new year, and Habitat officials now are looking to move the ReStore headquarters from the current US-23-N location to the downtown Alpena site sometime in April.
“The new ReStore is looking great,” said Suzan Krey, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, Alpena Area. “We’re hoping to be out of the old building by the end of March. Our construction supervisor is saying that yes, that should happen.”
Retired Michigan State Police trooper Dave Hall serves as the agency’s construction supervisor. He began working in earnest in January on the neglected building that has set vacant for many years. Among the tasks necessary to make the space usable for Habitat were replacing two antiquated furnaces with a new heating system, installing a handicap-accessible restroom, erecting some interior walls and smoothing out the pitted concrete floor.
Hall hasn’t had to go it alone. He’s had a dependable volunteer work crew made up of Dan McFalda, Randy McCauley, Don Wickham, Dick Parfett, Warren Libka, Ken Behnke and Don Frank. He also received some much appreciated assistance from the building trades class at Alpena High School.
“There was no ceiling at all in this section,” Hall said. “The building trades class helped us put the steel panelled ceiling in, which really brightens it up and cleans it up.”
Up to 22 different students, all enrolled in teacher Jason Loyer’s class, were involved in the roof project. Their work as a class at the site is finished, but several students continue to keep showing up for construction duty. They receive extra credit for doing so.
“It’s fun and a change of pace,” said Marshall Bailey, who stopped by last week to help Hall install the header around the ReStore’s new entrance area.
Though Bailey is taking the building trades class at AHS, he hopes to eventually go to college to become a dentist. “I just like building stuff,” he said, in between using power tools to cut boards and nail them into place.
Habitat first opened its ReStore in 2005 in rented space at 4330 US-23-N. ReStores — a fixture of the Habitat program in many communities across the country — provide a practical way for affiliates like Alpena to pass on donated surplus building supplies, slightly used furniture or appliances to others who can use them.
All the items are sold to the public at greatly reduced prices, which ends up to be a real boon to those who can’t afford to maintain a home or remodel at regular retail prices. The income generated from the ReStore, in turn, provides a steady source of funds for Habitat to keep on building homes for others in need.
The current ReStore is about 3,600 square feet in size, but Krey said the recently acquired building triples the available space for the ReStore to use. The new ReStore showroom, when completed, will include a customer service entrance, display windows, covered portico, garage service door and cold storage area.
Other sections of the new building need major renovations before they are usable. The original two-story brick building was constructed in 1890 for George Pamerleau, who came to Alpena from Quebec, Canada. The lower level of his building served as a store that sold groceries, flour, feed and country produce, while the top floor was used as living quarters.
Pamerleau died in 1914, and not long afterward his building was sold. Over the years, the space also was utilized as the Reo Garage, the Mulvena Trucking Lines and Jones Transfer.
News Photo by Diane Speer
Alpena High School student Marshall Bailey works with Habitat Construction Supervisor Dave Hall on renovations for the new ReStore that is relocating to the former Mulvena building.