UB Block rehab is one step closer as apartments open in district

Karen Eilts, the property manager for UB Lofts, in Huntington, stands inside one of the apartments in the UB Block. The apartments are now finished and available to rent, bringing the rehabilitation of the UB Block one step closer to completion.
Karen Eilts, the property manager for UB Lofts, in Huntington, stands inside one of the apartments in the UB Block. The apartments are now finished and available to rent, bringing the rehabilitation of the UB Block one step closer to completion. Photo by Steve Clark.

The rehabilitation of Huntington’s UB Block is one step closer to being complete, with the opening of UB Lofts, the apartments within the historic structure.

In all, there are 37 market-rate apartments in the UB Block, which is a trio of connected buildings at 48 E. Franklin St. Of those buildings, the first went up in 1889 while the second and third followed in circa 1915 and 1915, respectively. The rehabilitation of the UB Block got underway in the spring of 2018, under the direction AP Development LLC, an Indianapolis-based real estate development company.

MartinRiley, an architecture and engineering firm in Fort Wayne, was tapped to apportion much of the UB Block’s 48,000 square feet into apartments. The firm ultimately planned 15 one-bedroom, 11 two-bedroom and 11 studio units. The majority of those apartments – 23 – are in the third UB Block building, the 1915 structure, which was built by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ to house its publishing business.

The 1889 building contains 10 apartments while the circa 1915 structure houses four. Both of those buildings were put up by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), a fraternal organization.

UB Lofts opened on Feb. 14. Property Manager Karen Eilts had her first renter a day later.

Eilts says taking prospective renters through the apartments has been exciting.

“To see it come into fruition has been great,” she says of UB Lofts.

One of the highlights for apartments facing Franklin Street, notes Eilts, is the close-up views the windows afford of the Huntington County Courthouse, which was built in the early 1900s and has been devotedly maintained ever since.

Another highlight is the classic flooring in apartments, she says. Hardwood floors were uncovered throughout the UB Block during the rehabilitation process and subsequently refinished.

An additional highlight, states Eilts, is spiral staircases, which can be found in a handful of units.

All apartments feature new black appliances, Eilts adds, and the costs of water, sewer and trash collection are covered.

As enthusiastic as Eilts is about UB Lofts’ proximity to a landmark like the Huntington County Courthouse, as well as downtown restaurants and shops, she is equally as excited about the fact that the new Huntington Arts and Entrepreneurial Center will be the lofts’ neighbor inside the UB Block. The center is a collaboration between Pathfinder Services and Huntington University.

Pathfinder’s portion of the center will be dedicated to fine arts and culinary arts. The fine arts will be on display in a community art gallery, along with spaces devoted to ceramics, mixed-media art and photography, with classes offered. The culinary arts will be practiced in a commercial-grade kitchen on the premises. The kitchen will serve as a classroom, as well as a space that can be rented by entrepreneurs, such as food truck operators, in need of a commissary kitchen for their business. The gallery will be located on the ground floor of the first IOOF building.

HU’s part of the center will be geared toward supporting entrepreneurs. The university will offer a space that boasts office furniture, a professional meeting area, high-speed internet and a business mailing address, all of which will be available to entrepreneurs for a nominal fee.

Entrepreneurs will also have access to a chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit that provides free business mentorship, and the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce, which will be relocating to the first floor of the second IOOF building.

Eilts looks forward to the opening of the center, which is tentatively set for June.

“That space is going to be a big draw,” she says.

To get in touch with Eilts for more information about UB Lofts, call 530-1440 or email ublofts@gmail.com.

Beyond providing a new option for lodging, Eilts sees the UB Block providing a new energy to the downtown Huntington scene.

“I think it’s going to be a catalyst to a lot of things happening in downtown,” she remarks. “I really do.”