#8216;Big city#039; living

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Once the building rang with the sound of operator's voices. Later, it buzzed with dentist drills.

On Tuesday night, the upstairs of the Liz Woodruff Building in downtown Greenville was abuzz with the admiring voices of visitors as they checked out the building's transformation over the past fourteen months.

And what a transformation it is.

The former telephone company, later office space for several area dentists,

is now a loft apartment worthy of a truly cosmopolitan setting.

Long empty and neglected, the renovated space offers 12 to 13-foot molded tin ceilings, crown molding and highly detailed, molded tin walls, mellow exposed brick, granite kitchen countertops and gleaming wood floors.

A full kitchen, bath and a laundry room, complete with a stacked washer/dryer unit, provide all the comforts of home.

Visitors on Tuesday night got a sneak peak at the apartment during an open house sponsored by Greenville Main Street.

The reviews for the new digs, the co-creation of builder Archie Woodruff and architect Glynn Clark, were enthusiastic.

&#8220This could be in Atlanta, or Charleston or Savannah - some big city. It is really fabulous,” Mary Ann Hamilton noted.

Drew Bass, who will be renting the apartment, agrees.

&#8220Earlier on, I saw this place and said, ‘Archie, this is it.' I knew this was the place for me,” Bass said.

The apartment, which features spacious open areas for a bedroom/sitting room and a sitting/dining room area, is &#8220ideal for a single person,” he said.

&#8220For a couple, it would be a stretch. But it's great for me. And it's a perfect location.”

Finding a place in Greenville with its original tin walls in such good condition was

a coup for both the builder and architect.

&#8220There are several buildings in town with these old tin walls, but in so many of them, the tin is in really bad shape. Here, so much of it was in good shape,” Clark said.

&#8220We wanted to design this apartment so as many of these great details as possible could be seen and enjoyed. That's why we ended up going with an open loft design. Also, with the big windows, you are getting light coming in from back and front. You get a light, airy feel.”

A balcony off the front of the apartment will allow Bass to relax and enjoy some fresh air and a view up and down Commerce Street, while a rear balcony between buildings will give him space to do some grilling.

A huge walk-in closet features a solid wood clothing unit claimed from another building owned by Woodruff - the former Murphy's Clothing Building across the street.

&#8220I saw this display rack and said it would be perfect for the apartment,” Bass said with a grin.

The tenant, who will be moving in this Friday, plans to add four leather-topped barstools to his kitchen's granite bar and some antique furniture pieces.

But he doesn't want to overload the loft apartment with furnishings, Bass said.

&#8220I think it's a beautiful place without a single piece of furniture and I don't want to cover that up.”

Woodruff, who is planning additional loft conversions in the city, looked around the apartment with pride.

&#8220I wish you had seen it before we started all this. It's come a long way.”