Features & Highlights
- Renovated a 1940s-era public building into nine luxury-style loft apartments
- Worked closely with architect, engineer, and demolition and steel subcontractors to explore and execute best option for significant structural changes
- Preserved historic elements of the building while adding major upgrades to accommodate modern apartment living
- Redeveloped lower levels to accommodate future mixed-use occupancy
Sundt renovated and converted the historic Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) building into nine loft apartment units. In recent years, many older buildings in downtown Tucson have either been renovated or demolished entirely with ground-up construction occurring on the same lots. Turning a former commercial building into a mixed-use building with residences is fairly uncommon, and in many ways more challenging than a ground-up project.
The original structure was built in 1948 as Post 549, Arizona’s largest VFW post at the time. More recently it housed Access Tucson, a public access television station. Since this is a historic building, the city required preservation of the original north façade where there are large terra cotta tiles, which meant the project was restricted from adding to the building height. The VFW’s upper floor houses the nine loft apartment units, with mezzanines added to four of the units to increase usable square footage.
One aspect unique to this kind of renovation is demolishing portions of the building that are structurally required. The new design called for removing vital elements and erecting structural reinforcements. For instance, ten large openings and five balconies were added to the west elevation, which added amazing downtown views and drastically changed the building’s appearance. Cutting the large openings into the exterior wall and installing glass storefront systems required extreme care and coordination. Sundt worked closely with the structural engineer and demolition and steel subcontractors to ensure structural integrity and a safe jobsite.
The street level was redeveloped for a potential restaurant, retail and coffee shop, with a total of approximately 6,500 square feet, including courtyards and a patio. The 6,000-square-foot lower level may be renovated in the future to become offices. Another potential design for the street level and basement that is currently being pursued is constructing additional two-story apartment units.