Atrium remodeling ongoing – Havre Daily News

The Atrium Shopping Mall has been undergoing remodeling on its lower floor since late last year, a $250,000 project that owner Dave Shaw has been wanting to do for almost two decades.

“I fantasized about doing this when I bought the building 18 years ago,” Shaw said. “As soon as I could do something with the floor down here, to level it, I was gonna do it.”

He said he and his wife Kris began the remodeling last year by pulling out the old bathrooms on the lower floor and have been working their way through the area since.

He also said the remodeling is being done for practical and aesthetic purposes.

On the practical side, he said, they’ve been able to open up about 1,000 square feet of rental space, and those places that haven’t been rented yet can be remodeled for new tenants fairly easily.

Shaw said he’s considering narrowing the pillars in the central area to free up more space as well, but he hasn’t made a final decision yet.

He also said the the remodeling will give him the opportunity to install a more cost efficient heating system, which will save quite a bit of money long term.

Shaw said the building has had a few remodels since it was built in the early 1900s but in 1978 it became a fully electrically powered building, and with 5,500 feet of radiant heating in the floor the buildings electric bills are massive.

The building has a storied history itself. Frank Buttrey moved to Havre in 1902 and started a store he called The Fair.

That store burnt down during the great downtown fire in Havre in 1904, and Buttrey started work on a building he already had planned, and opened later that year the department store that was the first in a multi-state chain of department and grocery stores, a building that grew into the three-story brick building that houses The Atrium.

The department store chain closed in the late 1970s – the grocery store continued in the space that now houses Office Equipment for a few years before moving into the newly-built building that now houses Gary & Leo’s Fresh Foods – and a group of Havre businessmen bought the building in 1977 to create The Atrium Mall, which is what Kris and Dave Shaw purchased 18 years ago.

Dave Shaw said he’s planning to do more work on the building, including having a water-to-water geothermal heat exchanger installed, which will be far more efficient and lower their electric bills considerably.

He said some areas of the floor have been sinking for a while due to the way the foundations were put in back when the building went up, and solving that problem will double or triple the building’s value and make the floors more level.

“It was so uneven you could hardly put tables down here,” he said.

Havre Daily News/Patrick Johnston

The recently finished new concrete floor is seen on the ground floor of The Atrium Mall. Owner Dave Shaw said more work is being done on the ground floor, and he hopes to eventually do more remodeling on the uppers floors.

Shaw said the whole project will likely cost a quarter million dollars, added to the $750,000 he’s spent on the building over the years. He said that means he’s put the vast majority of money the building has made over the years back into the building, but it’s been worthwhile.

“I don’t get much money out of this, but it’s doing something for downtown, keeping things going,” he said.

He said he does eventually want to do some remodeling on the other floors, but he’ll need a bit more money to start on any of that.

Despite putting almost all the money he makes back into the building, he said, business is going well, with 28 out of 34 spaces in the The Atrium being rented, including five on the lower floor.

Shaw said it was unfortunate that Artititudes closed but he wants to keep the Havre Book Exchange going.

He said his mother, Anne Shaw, opened the business when she was in her 70s and he wants to do whatever her can to make sure it stays that way.

“She put her heart and soul into that book store,” he said.

Havre Daily News Managing Editor Tim Leeds contributed to this story.