Location: Hastings, Nebraska
Client: Garage Flats LLC
Year Completed: 2024
Year Originally Built: 1940
Renovation Cost: $1,400,000
Size: 6,400 sf
Program: Four semi-attached single family infill housing units

Architect: Goodlife Architecture
Contractor: Cardinal Construction
Developer: Queen City Development
Photography: Aaron Packard

Downtown districts in rural Nebraska are often missing some teeth. Parking lots and abandoned light-industrial midcentury buildings exist as gaps in the otherwise densly-packed brick and glass facades. The Jensen Body Shop building was one such property. Built in the 1940s of buff hollow core block, the body shop and its vast asphalt staging lot were a suburban condition in an urban setting. The property was vacated in the 2010s and acquired by the City’s redevelopment authority in 2018.

Goodlife and our partners identified the opportunity to use this infill site on the northeast edge of Downtown Hastings, Nebraska, as an experiment in Missing Middle housing. Young single people have long proven the case for developers to provide downtown living in loft apartments for convenience, walkability, cultural amenities and quality of life. Might the same draw exist for other housing types and diverse demographic residents?

We began by preserving the existing auto shop and adding a second story. Leaning into the industrial features of steel beams, concrete floors and masonry walls, the building was divided into two three-bedroom dwellings. We then created a new building of similar footprint and program perpendicular to the existing building, leaving room for automobile parking adjacent to the city street. Dwelling entrances and living spaces thus open to a new private courtyard mews. With a desire to make the dwellings accessible to workforce tenants of moderate income, all choices were carefully weighed against the value they provided – both economical and experiential.

The project, fully leased upon completion, is an emblematic proof-of-concept. A cost effective solution to one of the many unmet housing needs in our rural communities, which still honors the history and character of historic Main Street, USA.