NORFOLK — One of the most prominent buildings in Norfolk is getting a facelift. Real Estate Solutions purchased the old DeLay Bank Building at the corner of 4th and Norfolk Avenue two years ago and have been on a journey of renovation ever since.
Building Partner Russ Wilcox says he remembers the building fondly from his youth.
“My memory of this building is that it was always a part of growing up,” Wilcox said. “Downtown, when I was a kid, was really the hub.”
A chance to revitalize the landmark and to help return downtown to a retail hub are reasons why Wilcox and his real estate brokerage firm purchased the building. In two years, they have finished renovating two-thirds of the first floor and will have it done this summer. They also have apartments for rent upstairs that will be ready by the end of 2018.
The renovation has been an adventure for Wilcox because of his love of history.
“There’s so much history,” Wilcox said. “I think if you asked 50 people they’d say they found 50 different things that were interesting about it.”
The building was originally constructed in 1881 and was rebuilt after a fire in late teens and early 20s.
Some of its history made parts of the renovation challenging; like what to do with three vaults that weigh about a ton each, and how should they drill between floors in an old concrete bank.
“When they cut a hole through the floor in the basement they were cutting through a five-inch thick concrete floor,” Wilcox said.
But Wilcox was able to use much of the old stuff. He turned old doors into tables, kept the ram’s head decoration, the last piece of black granite, and a 2,000-pound vault door.
Some of the history is being told as part of tours.
First of all, Wilcox hopes moving into the space gives Real Estate Solutions more exposure. But, he also hopes it helps the community.
“We hope people see that there’s been a nice reinvestment in the downtown area and that we wanted to bring a really cool old building back to life,” Wilcox said.
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