Inside ‘the Mill’ renovation | News

(Shenandoah) — Work continues to bring an iconic Shenandoah structure back to life.

In July of 2022, the Shenandoah City Council approved a resolution of support for MALOJA, LLC’s renovation of the former Johnson Brothers Mill Building at 818 West Sheridan Avenue. Since then, MALOJA owner Margaret Brady and her team have been working to restore the venerable structure for future uses. KMA News recently toured the building’s interior to gauge renovation efforts. Brady says he took on the project’s challenge because something needed to be done with the abandoned structure.

“When it (Johnson Brothers Mill) closed, it pretty much walked away with what was in the building still in the building,” said Brady. “So, it still had a lot of equipment, grain that was still in the bins, grain that was still in the bins, paper, drywall and everything. Of course, the roof was bad. So, when you add water to all those things, it wasn’t very nice–and it smelled horrible.”

Renovation efforts began in July, when workers removed tons of scrap metal and other debris from the building. Recent exterior renovations included roof repairs, the installation of Pella windows and an extensive power washing.

“A lot of my team’s time here has been cleaning it out,” he said. “We sent all of the big, heavy equipment off to scrap, because it really wasn’t usable. It was just rusted metal at this point. we had a great guy who came out and pulled out loads and loads of scrap metal, and Shenandoah Sanitation pulled out loads and loads of debris that had to come out of the building first. Now, it’s clean and smelling good.”

While other renovation work is pending–including installing electricity and other utilities–planning continues for reopening the building, now known as “the Mill.” Its first major event involves a Farmers Market event April 25th from 4-to-7 pm Brady recently met with prospective vendors who will occupy the structure’s bottom floor that evening.

“I had 50 vendors reach out to me to say they had an interest,” said Brady. “So, I’m figuring out where we were going to put them all. We’re going to start inside–you know in April, it might be a little chilly at night. So, we’re going to be all inside. But, as the summer comes, we’re visually coming out into this beautiful wayward street, and expanding that market into the street.”

Brady also envisions using the Mill’s second level for office space and a classroom. Plans for the building’s third floor entail installation of a shared community kitchen, complete with food processing equipment, walk-in refrigerators and freezers and other necessary food-related materials.

“That will help our farmer’s market people go from being little farmer’s market people to being big enough to be part of the food hub community,” she said, “so we can be shipping Shenandoah, Iowa-raised products all over the state, and maybe someday all over the nation. I have a vision of us having our products everywhere on the four corners of the state and beyond, into Omaha. You know, we’re not very far.”

Plans call for leaving the building’s fourth floor vacant. Portions of the structure will also be used for storing materials for Brady’s housing rehabilitation projects.

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