Exclusive: Big plans for iconic Nevada County Bank building in downtown Grass Valley

The iconic Nevada County Bank building in downtown Grass Valley has sold, and the new owners have imaginative plans for the historic building, Sierra FoodWineArt magazine has learned.

The new owners are longtime locals Craig Hamilton and Lore Reynolds-Hamilton. The husband-and-wife team have a knack for renovating historic residences and commercial buildings in our area — akin to a program you might see on HGTV. The Nevada County Bank building — which hasn’t been on the market since the ’70s — sold at below its asking price of $1.3 million.

Our lifestyle magazine is excited about the potential for this historic building at 131 Mill St., widely considered the second-most architecturally unique building in all of downtown Grass Valley behind Mike and Barbara Getz’s Del Oro Theatre.

The purchase comes on the heels of a planned $3.8 million renovation of the Center for the Arts, and other merchant ventures, such as the foothills’ biggest walk-in humidor for premium cigars opening at Stucki Jewelers on Mill St. later this fall. Both developments are exclusives in the fall issue of our magazine.

The sale of the Nevada County bank building is the latest dose of “good news” for the historic downtown. Grass Valley has suffered some setbacks, such as the closure of the Owl Grill & Saloon on Mill Street, but the negatives have been highly exaggerated in recent reports in The Union, the local community newspaper. Businesses come and go, and most of the buildings remain occupied.

On the whole, the momentum in downtown Grass Valley is building — as it has been in other historic downtowns in our region, including Truckee, Auburn, Loomis and Lincoln. Grass Valley-Nevada City has just been named a prestigious cultural district, along with Truckee.

A longtime Nevada City couple has renovated the Lincoln Brand Feeds building in downtown Lincoln, and Loomis is revitalizing its downtown. This comes despite the competition from malls in Roseville and Rocklin, and a planned shopping mall in Grass Valley.

In an interview, the Hamiltons said the Nevada County Bank building will undergo an extensive interior remodel to make it more open and airy — the first in almost four decades.

“We’re going to polish it up and turn it into something cool,” said Craig. The 10,560-square-foot building has two stories for retail and office space. The Hamiltons have hired Wallis Design of Grass Valley as the architect. They hope to complete the renovation in six months.

The upstairs can accommodate five or six separate retail businesses. The Hamiltons are considering a proposal for a bakery on the Mill St. level. The downstairs will continue to house USI Insurance Services and other offices, Craig said. The building has 22 dedicated parking places, unusual in the downtown.

Building opened in 1917

The Nevada County Bank opened its doors in 1917. The building, built in the Greek Revival style and modeled after a Greek temple, was called the “Little Temple of Finance” by the Grass Valley Morning Union.

The building’s façade is original including the stately Ionic columns and domed roof. Historically significant features include two large bank vaults from the Nevada County bank. The listing brochure is HERE.

We heard about the sale of the Nevada County Bank building from a merchant in downtown Grass Valley, where a buzz is building about the deal.

The Hamiltons own other buildings in town, including a newly renovated one at 114-116 Neal St., where a tap-house and restaurant is opening,  as previously reported, along with a building at 203 Mill St., where Marshall’s Pasties is located. “We’re investing in downtown,” Lore said.

Our magazine’s fall issue, circulating since last week,  has an exclusive on a dynamic, $3.8 million expansion of The Center for the Arts — its first ever capital campaign. The renovation will help cement western Nevada County as a destination for the arts, drawing visitors and locals for generations to come. Details are HERE

We also have an exclusive on Mill St. stalwart Stucki Jewelers Inc. opening the largest walk-in humidor for premium cigars in the foothills — a growing retail trend. Owners James and Nicole Arbaugh “figure the premium cigar humidor will compliment their mainstay jewelry business — providing offerings for men and women shoppers.”

Political and civic leaders are excited about the growth, including Mayor Howard Levine, an artist and innkeeper; City Council member Lisa Swarthout, a longtime merchant; the Getz’s and others.

16003049_10155009175587948_3561411256977769231_n.jpgIn 2003, the Getz’s bought the historic Del Oro Theatre and began an extensive remodeling effort. Last year, the Del Oro tower and marquee were again refurbished and updated, bringing the look of the historic building closer to its 1940s origins.

The Hamiltons grew up in Nevada County.  Craig operates Hamilton Design and Build, and Lore is a local real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty. “I am lucky enough to have been raised and to be able to raise my children in this beautiful county,” she said.

(Photos: Kial James)

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