By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – One of Hot Springs’ most recognizable landmarks received some external impovements recently, as different crews over the past couple of weeks replaced the deteriorating stairs and also repointed the sandstone brickwork on the retaining wall surrounding the Evans Apartments along North River Street.
Director of the Hot Springs Housing and Redevelopment Commission Greg Foust said all of the work being done currently is from a windfall of excess funding from South Dakota Housing through greater than anticipated bond yields.
Foust said The Evans had performed a $1.8 million improvement project back in 2010-11 by issuing bonds through South Dakota Housing and are currently paying back that loan, which allowed them to renovate a number of rooms and kitchens, upgrade the water and air conditioning system, the boiler system and make some needed ADA improvements.
These new improvements however are being performed with funds that are not needing to be paid back, provided they are completed by the end of the year or scheduled for completion before year’s end. In addition to the exterior improvements, Foust said there are also some interior improvements being performed with the excess ‘free’ funds that are not as visible, including significant renovations to the heating system.
Foust said local contractor John LeBar replaced the Evans’ four concrete stair cases that lead to the surrounding sidewalk. All of them had become very deteriorated and were not only uncomplimentary to the beautiful sandstone architecture of the building, but also a safety concern.
“We hadn’t discussed him doing the stamping of the stairs, but it really looks great and adds a nice touch to their overall appearance,” Foust said.
Mid Continental Restoration out of Parkston was also hired to do the repointing of the sandstone blocks on the retaining wall. Three members of that company have been in town for the past couple of weeks performing that chore, which also greatly improved the look and life of the Evans. The last time any work had been done to the retaining was likely around 1979-80, Foust throught.
Foust added there improvements are also being planned to the building’s balcony doors and windows, for which they are working with the South Dakota Historical Society to ensure the changes fall within their recommendations. He said there is also some additional planned improvements to some of the tenants’ kitchen appliances and flooring, with the excess funds as well.
“This has really been a windfall for us, that will benefit the residents, and also help us maintain the property for many years,” Foust said. “The building is an important part of Hot Springs and we definitely want to keep it that way.”
Earlier this spring, the front of the The Evans featured another change of appearance, and that was when the buildings two fir trees had the lower portions of their trunks trimmed back. Foust said the original plan was to trim back the branches that were intruding onto the sidewalk and staircases. However, following the recommendation of the arborist who performed the duties, it was decided to remove all of the lower branches and thus open up the entire view from the porch.
While its taken some getting adjusting to, Foust said it has been a positive change. He added that when Christmas in the Hills kicks off at the end of this month, the Christmas lights will still be strung from the two trees, but will also extend all the way to the ground, as if there were branches still going to the ground.
Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald
Crew members with Midcontinental Restoration of Parkston, S.D., last week work on repointing the sandstone blocks of the Evans Apartments’ retaining wall along North River Street in Hot Springs.