ST. CLOUD -- What was once the heart of the city, the First National Bank of St. Cloud building is well on its way to becoming a town staple once again.

Renovations to the building wrapped up last summer and now the old bank is turning some heads.

Since finishing the restoration the development team led by Inventure Properties and Spring Hill Capital has been recognized as the winner of the Top Project of 2016 award by Finance & Commerce.

Developers Douglas Boser, Brian Schoenborn and Shannon Wiger all helped lead the development team. Boser says because they were trying to restore the building and keep as much of the original aspects as possible, it was challenging but well worth it in the end.

"Brian makes a really good statement when he said there were 89,000 decisions that needed to happen in this building, we missed very few of those and [headed] in the right direction. To have someone like Finance & Commerce identify that and then to identify a group of people like Shannon, Brian and myself as developers and leaders in this historic renovation is very humbling."

The renovation process started in 2014. Boser says everything from the electrical to the plumbing systems were completely overhauled. He says one of the biggest challenges was making the nearly 130-year-old building handicap accessible.

"We had to really look at electrical services, the elevator itself that was a 300,000 plus dollar brand new elevator. We worked hard to bring the building as close to handicap accessible [as possible] which it never was in the beginning."

The old bank building is now the home to ten St. Cloud area businesses including MC's Dugout restaurant and bar which has remained in the basement throughout the renovation process.

Along with the Top Project of 2016 award, the First National Bank of St. Cloud has also been selected for an Impact Award by the Minnesota Preservation Alliance. Wiger says over 20 projects were nominated for the award and the St. Cloud project is one of four to receive the award.

"The Impact Award recognizes projects in-particular that had an impact on the community, itself and saving a building that was important in that community."

Boser says since the beginning of the restoration, his team's goal was to leave an impact and inspire others to start new projects in the community.

"Hopefully we've set in motion other projects. We want to see these other groups be successful in their transition of whether it's an old historic building or if the building is so tired that it needs to be torn down and a new one put together. It's really creating that impact and just constantly looking for that new project to be able to say what's the impact that we're going to have on our community."

The First National Bank of St. Cloud building was founded by James Bell and Joseph Smith in 1867. The building was established in 1889.

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