More than three years after the last of two casual restaurants closed there, a historic railroad freight warehouse in downtown Rapid City has been given new life as pristine, professional office space.
The old Milwaukee Road Freight House, originally built in 1923 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now home to the Federal Public Defender’s Office and Black Hills Modern Endodontics, a dental practice.
The old freight house, adjacent to the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern rail tracks and next door to the former Rapid City rail passenger depot (now La Costa Mexican Restaurant, and also on the National Historic Register) offers 11,250 square feet of rentable space after more than a year of complete foundation-to-rooftop renovation, according to Brad Estes, head of the ownership group RC Freight House LLC.
The vintage structure, now re-addressed as 655 Omaha St., proved to be a solid base for the renovation, Estes said.
“It sure had some great old bones,” he said. “The architects and contractors did a great job."
The former restaurant was one of several Sanford’s Grub & Pub locations, opening in Rapid City in 2000, rebranding in 2016 as the Historic Freight House Grill & Taproom after a split in Sanford’s ownership group. The Historic Freight House Grill & Taproom closed in September 2017.
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An investment group, including Estes, Sam Benne, Brad Kurtz and Ka Alberts, completed a deal to purchase the building before it went to auction.
Estes said designers worked to keep the historic warehouse appearance, keeping the look of the old warehouse doors over what used to be loading and unloading docks for freight trains on the south side of the building, and trucks on the north (Omaha Street) side.
What appear to be operating freight doors are now non-functional. Full windows visible from the exterior are actually backed with a half-wall in each office.
“That’s to keep the energy usage down,” Estes said.
The building is now fully leased, with main level office space and lower level storage for the ownership group. A majority of upper level offices are in use by the Federal Public Defenders Office, which moved from the 700 block of Main Street in early November.
Dr. Eric Wilbur, DMD, and Dr. Jeff Adams, DDS, merged their dental practices and moved into the freight house earlier in December, Wilbur said.
Their separate practices, Wilbur’s Modern Endodontics and Adams’ Black Hills Endodontics, had been located in Founders Park and Clock Tower Plaza, respectively. Their new space offers more visibility and plentiful parking for their patients,
“This worked out perfect for us,” Wilbur said.