Downtown Pratt: Windows to the future

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Smiley Concrete construction workers Jose Esquivel, Winnis Gomez (in opening) and Juan Palacious (not pictured) take out 14-inch brick walls at the 317 S. Main renovation project owned by Rob Smiley in preparation for concrete pillars and window installation. The view from the renovated building will look over Pratt’s Merchants Park to the south.

Just over a year ago Rob Smiley of Smiley Concrete purchased a building in the 300 block of South Main Street in Pratt with plans to renovate it for use in the future. This week he ordered the windows to go in the south side of the building which borders Merchants Park, the final stage in his building project before he picks a lessee for the location.

“I’ve traveled around the country with my work and seen what other towns have,” Smiley said. “And I see what we have here in Pratt. What we have here is what people want in this day and age. Pratt is getting primed to become a favorite destination for people. This building will soon be ready to be a part of what sets Pratt apart. We are a thriving small-town community. And that’s special.”

As part of the construction industry, Smiley said that real estate, particularly brick and mortar establishments, took a hit in the past year with economic stress, the pandemic and national unrest, but in Pratt he sees a strong base for a comeback.

“There are those that may not realize it yet, but what we have here are good people, honest leadership, dedicated business owners, a lot of outreach and support, a large network of people pulling together to help each other, and opportunity for growth,” Smiley said. “I just wanted to try and recreate a quality space here on Main Street for business. I thought it was a good way to be part of the renewal that is happening to attract people to Pratt.”

Smiley said he had hoped to get his project lease-ready by last summer, but a busy concrete-work schedule kept him and his work crews busy. Now in a bit of a slow-down because of cold weather, work has ramped up at the 317 S. Main building and nears completion.

“Everything else is done inside,” he said. “Heating and air, plumbing, electrical, flooring, bathrooms - all of that has been replaced. I left the hardest part to the last and that has been shoring up the south wall.”

Water damage in the 14-inch thick brick wall made the entire south wall unstable. Smiley said his crews removed all of the old bricks and put in concrete pillars to make it all safe. And he has added windows that will allow natural light in and provide a view of the park next door.

“When I started this project, my very beginning goal was to put in windows,” he said. “I asked everyone who had an interest in this what they thought, and everyone responded that windows would improve the value and make good real estate sense.”

In just a few short weeks those windows should arrive and then all that is left is to install them and do a bit of finish-up work.

“I’ve had a lot of questions about what is going to go in here,” Smiley said. “I have had a lot of interest and offers, but nothing is set in stone yet. I want this to be something that is good for Pratt, and because there is such a prime location, I can be a bit choosey.”

Smiley said he is still taking applications for rental ideas and can be reached at 620-388-3634 for more information.