From an outside wall that literally fell apart during construction to a miscalculation over square footage resulting in the need to upgrade their fire suppression system, renovating the old Trading Post into a state-of-the-art event center has not been without hiccups.
Crystal Bennett, however, says it’s all worth it.
Bennett, Teri Fox-McCloskey, and David Fox have partnered together to create the Fox Center Event Space at 424 Central Avenue.   
“We felt there really was a need for more options when it came to event centers in Nebraska City,” Bennett said.  “I know many people who are taking their business out of town because they can’t find something to find their needs or budget.”
The space was deeded to Bennett and David Fox from their grandmother, Carol Fox, who owned the Trading Post at that location since 1994.  The pair contemplated selling the structure until, while they were cleaning out the interior of the building, the west wall came tumbling down.
“At that point, we knew we had to put in a lot of money to fix it up to even be able to sell it, so why not do that and make something of it?” said Bennett.
Renovation work started at the end of April.  The group was able to secure a loan from a bank and also was granted LB840 funds from Nebraska City.
They have rebuilt the west wall, drywalled much of the rest of the interior, added a few separate rooms for office space and bathrooms, and installed a caterer’s kitchen.  Before they open September 1, they still need to install custom lighting, finishing the bar area, wire their own sound system and DJ equipment, and refinish the original hardwood floor.
When completed, the space will have room for 250 for a seated banquet.  The Fox Center will have their own tables, chairs, and linens.  Bennett said they will be a perfect space for weddings and receptions, business meetings, training seminars, and parties.
The first event scheduled at the Fox Center is a vendor fair during AppleJack weekend.
Bennett said there has been good interest in booking the space for future events.  She said she is pleased to be a part of all the changes going on downtown.
“It’s really great to see all the exciting things going on in Nebraska City,” she said.

Warehouse @ 405
Architectural Salvage
Saving historic buildings is what Kim Crossfield and Dan Kelly seem to do best.  The owners of Warehouse Antiques @ 609 in downtown Nebraska City have added another building to their list of properties and this one may be the most challenging one yet.
Crossfield and Kelly, along with Mark and Susan Markuson, purchased a dilapidated brick warehouse at the corner of 4th Street and Central Avenue with the intent of making it an architectural salvage shop.  The city owned the property and was considering demolishing the structure.
“We had to provide a plan to the city about what we were going to do with it,” Crossfield said.  “One stipulation was that we had to fix it up.”
Known now as Warehouse @ 405, the building needed major renovation.  The new owners put on a new roof, stabilized the back wall, replaced many small window panes, put in a new water line, and poured concrete to strengthen rotted support beams.  Before they open in mid-August, Crossfield said they need to fix the ceiling, update the electrical wiring, and put in a new heating system.
“In the summertime we’ll just open up the front and back doors and have big fans going,” she said.
There will be 10-12 vendor bays in the building, each measuring 10’x14’.  Crossfield is looking at hiring a manager and a few part time employees.
Crossfield likes historic buildings, noting she has done some research into the history of her new property.
“Some sources say it was a stable and possibly a mechanic shop,” Crossfield said.
Crossfield said restoring old building keeps the neighborhood looking good.
“There is no sense in a building being torn down when you can fix it up,” she said.

Fort Tuff
The Fort, a mainstay of downtown Nebraska City at 903 Central Avenue, recently opened a second store, this one with a unique focus.
Fort Tuff Job Site Outfitters opened June 26 at 815 Central Avenue.  The building was the site of a J.C. Penney store in the 1980s and has been used for storage by The Fort in recent years.  They carry work boots, vests, gloves, jeans, and more.
Manager Sandra Neubauer said Fort Tuff specializes in providing corporate clients with their correct work gear.
“We can help outfit new employees,” Neubauer said.  “We carry what they are required to wear and know exactly what they need.”
Brands featured at Fort Tuff include Under Armour, Danner, Timberland, and Carhartt.  The company did have to do minor renovations to the facility, enclosing the second story loft space for offices and storage.
Fort Tuff Job Site Outfitters will have a Grand Opening celebration August 8-10.