Rezoned… commercial converted to living space in Florence, Colorado

Published January 20, 2012 by housecrazy

What ever happened to that HGTV show anyway (Rezoned)? That was one of my favorite shows, along with If Walls Could Talk.

I’m crazy about the idea of a converted commercial space now being used as a living space, or a live/work space. I love browsing the commercial real estate listings just to get a glimpse of these types of conversions because they don’t seem to show up that often in the residential listings.

I’m going to dedicate my Friday posts to this topic and I am going to call it: Rezoned & Repurposed.

This Friday, I would like to feature a repurposed building in my area that I have gone to see before. It is currently listed for sale in Florence, Colorado.

Historic Florence, Colorado from:

Florence is a small town about 10 minutes down the highway from where I live. Florence is known as “The Antique Capitol of Colorado” and rightfully so – the Main Street has many wonderful antique stores and emporiums that sell amazing Colorado antiques for very decent prices.

Just a half block north of Main street is an extraordinary historic property known as the Santa Fe Building:

Santa Fe Building, Florence, Colorado from:

listing flyer by: realtor Michael Butts (Century 21 Canon Land)

Most recently used as a real estate office, the Santa Fe Building started life off as a doctor’s office back when it was built around the year 1900. You can see from the picture on this flyer that it has a front door (with black awning), and a few feet over, an angled side door.

listing flyer by: Liana Winans (Santa Fe Realty - Florence,CO)

I was told by the current owner that the corner door was the door where the doctor’s patients entered. Inside is the waiting room/reception area which remains pretty much the same today as it was in 1900. There are even original chart holders that the current owner uses to hold flyers for her real estate business!

original chart holder - photo from listing flyer by Liana Winans

Here’s a view of the patient’s entrance:

patient entrance, Santa Fe Building, from:

I can just picture the Victorian ladies coming through that door to get their daily “hysteria” cures.

Beyond the front parlour/reception area are a couple of rooms that the doctor used as his office and patient room. The other half of the building and the upper level were the doctor’s private living space. It was not uncommon in that era for business owners – like doctors – to have their private residence in the same building as their business.

offices on the south-side, from:

The Santa Fe Building has a floor-plan similar to that of an American Four Square with a central hall and staircase and rooms on either side:

front hall, Santa Fe Building, from:

The current owner told me that the Santa Fe Building was being used as apartments before she bought it. And yes, it was pretty much trashed. The seller put considerable time, energy and money into restoring the building. Here are some before and after photos that she has on display:


before and after photos, from:

You can get a sense of the mess that the place was in when it was acquired. They did a magnificent restoration job, including preserving a great deal of the original woodwork and saving some of the Victorian-era light fixtures:

light fixture, Santa Fe Building, from:

True story: when the electricians were re-wiring this particular light fixture, the glass cover became dislodged and crashed to the floor below. Miraculously, it did not break.

The owners also found some buried pocket doors and did an exquisite job refinishing them:

pocket doors, from:

The kitchen is small but cute. I love the exposed brick walls:

kitchen, from:

On the back wall of the kitchen is a custom painted mural of some can-can dancers:

kitchen mural in the Santa Fe Building, from:

I just adore those gals. Who wouldn’t want to have breakfast looking up at that festive scene every morning? It just puts a smile on your face.

In the building’s remodeled state, there is one full bath and one half bath:

downstairs half-bath, from:

The upper level has four large rooms plus a full bath and an unfinished balcony off the master bedroom – unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures of the second floor rooms that I could link to.

Unlike most commercial buildings, the Santa Fe Building actually has a small side-yard:

side yard, from:

There is a lovely little patio off the back door:

side yard patio, from:

We were in love with this building when we saw it and wanted to put in an offer. While the building has waffled over the past century between commercial, residential and both at the same time, we planned to use the whole house as a residence. Recent zoning issues, however, deterred us. The town of Florence has some weird  and inflexible zoning laws and this poor building is now stuck with a “CB” zoning which allows only 50% of the square footage to be utilized as residential living space. The rest must be used as commercial, and that would be great for someone who has a home-based business but it wouldn’t work for us. In our research, we discovered that this zoning designation was irreversible.

The other issue is that the property is located in a flood zone, as is most of the town of Florence (due to being located in a low-lying area south of the Arkansas River). As a former owner of a house in a flood zone, I swore I would never go there again. [But that’s a whole other post!]

from listing flyer by: Liana Winans (Santa Fe Realty - Florence,CO)

The Santa Fe Building has been on the market for a couple of years now. The price has come down from $189,000 to $169,900. I think that is a STEAL for a wonderful building like this. It just needs the right owner – preferably someone who wants to live at work.

You can see the current listing here, and even take a virtual tour that includes 360 degree views of the upstairs bedrooms.


One comment on “Rezoned… commercial converted to living space in Florence, Colorado

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