Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hafer Associates moving downtown

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 12:11 AM CDT

Hafer Associates architectural firm is moving into part of the first floor of the Newberry-Wile Building downtown at 101 E. Second St.

The firm, which also has offices in Evansville, entered the local business community about three years ago when it bought the Collignon & Nunley firm from George Collignon.

The company now has eight people in its Owensboro offices, including Dennis Wilson of Owensboro, the most recent hire.

Hafer was looking for the right location, and the space at Second and Allen streets owned by Phil and Laura Clark fit the bill.

"This is a nice, historic building right in the heart of downtown," said David Wills, Hafer's managing principal partner. "We also like that it's next to the parking garage, and we'll rent space there."

The Hafer firm does a lot of historical preservation work, so that also made the location a good fit, he said.

The architects also are very involved in designing sustainable buildings -- those that are energy-efficient, Wills said.

The Clarks live on the third floor of the Newberry-Wile Building, which covers 101-105 E. Second St., and several other tenants occupy offices within the 16,000-square-foot space.

Hafer will occupy about 4,000 square feet of the northwest portion of the building's first floor.

The Counseling Center also is on the first floor, and the second- floor occupants include Financial Freedom Partners, David York & Associates and attorney Charles Lamar.

Hafer has continued to rent space from Collignon at 1535 Frederica St.

The business is working with local contractors to get pricing on the renovations for the new location.

"It's very exciting for us," Wills said. "It will probably be ready sometime after the first of the year.

Records show that Sol Wile, a German immigrant, built the building at 101 E. Second in 1881. He eventually expanded the store, Sol Wile & Sons, adding the section at 105 E. Second.

But in 1927, Owensboro's largest clothing store closed. Newberry's department store was located there in later years.

The building has had several owners over time, including the county -- but it also was empty for quite a few years and fell into major disrepair.

Rescued and renovated in the 1990s, the structure's transformation then signaled hope for a downtown renaissance, but it was abandoned again before finally gaining its current owners in 2005.