Pike changes plans for Schafer Building

    Remember the project announced some four years ago to convert the former Schafer Building, at First and Madison Sts. in downtown Decatur, into a complex of 26 condominiums?
    Now, the owner of that structure, Robert J. Pike of New Richmond, Wisconsin, says he still plans to create the condos, but instead of offering them to the public at-large, he plans to let United States military veterans live there.
    Pike, 60, is a wounded veteran of the Vietnam War, having been a helicopter door gunner.    He owns Franklin Investments in New Richmond and has started a new organization just for the Decatur plan: Urban Habitat Preservation Project.
    Pike, who admits that his 2007 concept took a financial hit in The Great Recession that began in 2008, is seeking donations to complete what he estimates will be a $5 million project.
    He faces extra expense due to major roof damage that has occurred. He revealed that a section of roof measuring about 42 by 64 feet collapsed onto the third floor after waterproofing plastic on the roof was ripped and removed by wind in recent years.
    Pike says the building has more than 60,000 square feet of space on three floors and a nearly full-size basement.
    He adds that the overall project will take four phases, with the first phase estimated to cost about $2 million, which includes fixing the roof.
    Pike said the first floor will be open on two days during Decatur's 175th anniversary celebration in late August for free displays of model trains and to let model train vendors sell their wares.
    The free model train shows will run from noon-5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, August 26-27, displaying trains from Pike's collection, since he's a big model train fan, and from the Decatur Model Railroad Club.
    To contact Pike, write to Urban Habitat Preservation Project, 1642 Highway 64, New Richmond, WI 54017 or contact him at uhpproject.org
    The UHPP telephone number is 1-715-441-3557.
    New Richmond is located near the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota area.