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Tepper’s work continues

The work comes along slowly but surely.

As the face of the Tepper’s Building on Broad Street changes, hopes grow that the face of the downtown area will, too.

“On the first floor will be the deli, ice cream and coffee shop,” said Freedom Foundation chair Shawn Samuelson. “On the second floor will be the Youth Leadership Institute that we’re working on. A lot of the stuff with the youth, we’re already doing that kind of work. Now we’ll just have a place to house that.”

The Freedom Foundation purchased the building in January 2007 and has worked to transform the structure into a center of activity for the downtown community. Damage caused by weather and a majority volunteer workforce haven’t sped up the process, but progress is visible now.

Workers have removed the exterior of the first two floors, exposing red brick walls inside the building. Selma architect Dick Hudgens said drawings for restoration of the outside of the first two floors of the building are in the works.

“Since it’s such a big building, and it’s so expensive to do, they’re going to break it down into smaller parts,” Hudgens said. “Basically what we have is old photographs to go by. We’re going to use those to restore it to that original look — the wood storefront, the planes of glass and that sort of thing.”

The exterior of the first two floors, including new windows, are scheduled for completion by February, according to Samuelson.

The goal for completion of both the interior and exterior is 2010. “From what I’ve heard, all of the structure is fine. The steel is fine, and the masonry is fine,” Hudgens said. In the interim, plywood protects the exposed inside of the building to prevent any further damage from weather.

“Right now our focus is to get those first two floors of the building completed so we can get things up and running,” Samuelson said. “We’re in the process of working with a structural engineer to get the building sound so that we can begin construction on the inside.”