Randi Dorman is a partner in newly formed company Deep Freeze Development, LLC, along with Warren Michaels, Phil Lipman and her husband, Rob Paulus. The four are overseeing the development of something that promises to be the coolest new thing in the downtown area in years: the Ice House Lofts. They are converting the more than eight-decade-old Arizona Ice Cold Storage Co. building, located on Mill Street in the Millville area just southeast of downtown, into a condo-style loft residence with 51 units. (Here's a picture of the building now, and an artist's rendering of what it will look like when renovated.) As of this writing, 41 of the units are reserved; they range in size from 650 to 2,300 square feet and in price from $130,000 to the mid-$400,000s. The fab four will be holding an invitation-only open house party at their 120 E. Congress St. sales office on Oct. 24. After we toured the messy building--construction has yet to start on the building itself--Randi and I sat down on the edge of an old loading dock and had a chat.
How did this all get started?
Warren found the building and called Rob. Rob called Phil, and they all looked at the building. They pretty instantly knew it had amazing potential and would be perfect for lofts.
When did this all happen?
May 2002. Two weeks later, we owned it.
Wow. And when will it be ready for people to move in?
There's obviously a lot of work to do between now and then. What are all the steps?
It really starts with what we've done already. First, we've worked with the neighborhood and the city to get the building rezoned. We did discovery (research) on the building and then planning of what the building will look like.
I understand a lot of the old equipment from the ice factory's going to be kept.
Our plan is to embrace the history of the building, and a lot of the materials and the machinery are part of that history. The plan is to use those as design elements throughout the building and the site.
Give me some examples.
We're reusing some of the piping as fencing, and the gauges and knobs as gate handles. Some of the wood will be used in the gates, and we'll use the machinery as sculptural elements.
Will that result in fewer trips to Home Depot?
Not really. This is an adaptive reuse of the building and as much of what's inside the building as possible.
What other projects does Deep Freeze Development have on its plate?
Right now, we're also working on a project called Barrio Metalico: nine freestanding metal loft-style homes across the street from the Ice House. We're also looking for our next project with a real eye on downtown.
You and your husband are going to be Ice House residents. Why?
Because it is the most unique space in all of Arizona. It's going to combine the beauty of this building and the authentic materials with contemporary design.
Give me a cross-section of the 41 folks who have already made reservations.
We've found that there's really not a specific demographic profile, but there's a psychographic profile. The people are smart and sophisticated, and they recognize this as a unique opportunity.
This looks like an older, industrial neighborhood. How have the neighbors been with this?
The neighborhood's actually mixed, residential and industrial. We worked with the neighbors and took them through our plans, and for the most part, they've been great and supportive.
When's construction going to start?
The external demolition started Oct. 9, and that really starts the whole process. We'll start soon on the internal.
It seems like a lot of work for 14 months.
Not really. We've worked closely with our contractors, and a lot of plans go into these things.
One more question: Can you tell me what other buildings or projects you folks have your eyes on?
We definitely have our eyes on a few projects, but we can't really talk about them right now.