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Luxury condos bring new life to Huntington building

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The former O.J. Morrison Department Store in downtown Huntington has been converted to 10 modern luxury condominiums. The former O.J. Morrison Department Store in downtown Huntington has been converted to 10 modern luxury condominiums.
The two-story foyer in The Lofts At The Renaissance offers a view of the restored interior. The two-story foyer in The Lofts At The Renaissance offers a view of the restored interior.
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By JAMES E. CASTO
For The State Journal

HUNTINGTON — Developer Shane Radcliff is breathing new life into an old building that's been part of the city's downtown for more than 90 years. When a sweeping renovation is completed, the building will offer 10 luxury condominiums, along with first-floor retail and office space. 

The four-story building at 831 4th Ave. was built circa 1920 to house the Huntington location of the O.J. Morrison Department Store, a retail chain that once operated more than a dozen stores in West Virginia. The building replaced a previous Morrison store on the same site that opened in 1914 and burned in 1919. Huntington architect Levi J. Dean designed not only the Huntington store but also a number of other Morrison stores as well.

When the Morrison store closed in 1965, the building was taken over by Star Furniture, which was located next door. Later, it would be home to the Renaissance Book Co. and Afterword Cafe. In recent years, Radcliff said, it was "occupied by a bunch of nightclubs. That's when it was really trashed." 

A Huntington native and Marshall University graduate, Radcliff has been a local real estate broker and developer for 20 years. His other recent rehab projects include a retail building in the 600 block of Eighth Street and a South Side apartment complex. And he's built a number of houses in the Pleasant Valley development on Fifth Street Road.

But the Fourth Avenue project is by far his most ambitious undertaking. He not only bought the landmark structure, he also bought the City Hall Annex. located just across the alley, he demolished it to provide parking spaces for the new condominiums. 

"That building was really built," he said. "They thought it would take three weeks to tear it down. It took three months." 

Radcliff and his work crew essentially gutted the Morrison's building. 

"We've tried to restore the original façade as much as possible but inside we went strictly modern," he said.

Pet Palace, now located just across Fourth Avenue, soon will move into the first-floor retail space. 

"They're going to triple their space from 3,000 square feet to 9,000," Radcliff says.

Although some long-time Huntington residents remember the Morrison's store, the building is better known as the former home of the Renassiance Book Co. The name is still emblazoned in big gold letters across the front of the building, and Radcliff decided to retain it for his condo project, which he calls "The Lofts At The Renaissance."  

Ratcliff originally planned 12 condominiums in the revamped building but ultimately decided to combine two of them into super-sized units. 

"We've sold six of the 10," he said. "All of them, I might point out, strictly by word of mouth. We've done no advertising."

The units range in size from a modest 1,520 square-foot to a massive 5,164 square-foot in what Ratcliff describes as "the finest condominium in Huntington." Still under construction, it will offer a striking two-level foyer, an in-unit private elevator, open-concept living room, dining room, kitchen, three large bedrooms, three baths and a laundry room. The asking price for the as-yet-unsold unit: $749,900.

Hanging in the building's lobby is a giant handmade chandelier totaling $15,000. Smaller versions are being hung in each unit, at a total cost of $130,000. Each of the units will have high ceilings, eight-foot doors, gas fireplaces and gas ranges. The building's first floor will include a fitness center for residents, who also will have access to individual storage spaces in the basement.

And Ratcliff is already gearing up for his next project. 

"There are no first-class rental apartments in the downtown and there's a real demand for them," he said. Thus, he has his eye on a nearby long-vacant 4th Avenue building with an eye to installing rental units in it.

The numbers

Six of the 10 units have been sold so far.

  • Units range in size from a modest 1,520 square feet to a massive 5,164 square feet.
  • Asking price for the largest as-yet-unsold unit: $749,900.
  • Chandeliers being hung in each unit come at a total cost of $130,000.