Tom Finnegan walked through the halls of the Montgomery Building last week, as the long-awaited renovation project nears completion.

The building, which along with the AC Hotel is perhaps one of the most visible signs of Spartanburg's resurgent downtown, has come a long way since Greenville-based BF Spartanburg entered into a voluntary cleanup contract in March 2016.

Ground was broken for the Montgomery Building in 1923, and it was home to various business offices over the years. But Lockwood Greene left in 1983, along with most of the Southern Bell offices two years later. By the early 2000s, only a few tenants remained. And by 2014, scaffolding had been erected around the building to protect pedestrians, as it literally had begun to crumble.

Finnegan and James Bakker, who make up BF Spartanburg LLC, have been working on the estimated $29.5 million project for about two-and-a-half years, officially acquiring the building in February 2017 and benefiting from about $5 million in federal historic tax credits. Now, the group is putting the finishing touches on the apartments housed in the upper levels of the historic building.

"It has been a long and hard journey, but a good journey," Bakker said in an email. "We have met a lot of great people and through the process have built great relationships and friendships. Our team has worked tremendously hard and has been dedicated to the project since the beginning. The city of Spartanburg has been very easy to work with and has been very supportive of the project."

The apartments on floors 4-10, which range in size from studio to two bedroom, all have slightly different configurations based on their placement in the building. That results in all kinds of perks for each room, from bay windows and offices to walk-in closets and extra-wide vanities.

Still, all of the apartments have the same general layout, with the front door leading into an open kitchen and living area that has bedrooms on one or both sides. Each apartment has one bathroom per bedroom, one of which is detached from the bedroom for privacy when hosting. Each apartment also contains a provided washer and dryer, closets large enough to live in, and individual heating and air units for each room instead of vents, allowing residents to keep each room at the temperature of their choosing.

The apartments share the same neutral color scheme, and feature brown marble countertops, dark wood floors, cream carpet and gray walls. While there are obviously no balconies, the sheer number of windows — large with wide windowsills and usually three or four to a room — more than make up for that.

“You don’t get big windows like this,” Finnegan said. “You will not have to turn your heating on in the winter with the sun that’s coming through here.”

The windows, Finnegan said, are recreations of the building’s original windows and are custom and individually made.

"The windows are my favorite aspect because of the quality of the workmanship and the sheer size of them," Bakker said. "They offer incredible views and allow a lot of natural light into the apartments."

The views from these apartments are spectacular. Depending on which side of the building the apartment is located on, you might be gazing out at the mountains, the AC Hotel and the downtown clock tower, at Wofford and Converse — in some, you can even see as far out as Drayton Mills. But one of the more unique views is of the historic Central United Methodist Church next door.

“When have you ever had a chance to look down on a church steeple?” Finnegan asked.

While the apartments are spacious and in a prime downtown location, Finnegan said that there are no plans to sell any of them, even after the building’s five-year sale restriction has lifted. The Montgomery Building units will rent for between $875-$2,400 — which means Aug Smith on Main remains the keeper of the most expensive downtown apartment by $200.

“Because of the historic tax credits, we have to own this building for at least five years,” Finnegan said. “My guess is we’ll never sell this building. I mean, why would you sell this building? We’ve put so much time and effort into it, and it means so much to the city.”

Currently, floors 6-10 are in punch list mode, covered with tiny scraps of Post-it notes marking scuffs, spots and scratches that need to be touched up. Appliances were sitting in kitchens to be installed in the apartments on floors 4 and 5.

Finnegan also noted some of the building’s other changes — like the black-and-white checkered tile in the hallways, hallway vents that pull in and alternately heat or cool fresh air from outside the building, a brand new main staircase and the refurbished elevators.

On the second and third floors, things are wrapping up as well. Finnegan said they would be leaving that space, which will house various office tenants, open and somewhat unfinished until those tenants are secured. He said both floors were perfect for open-plan offices.

Another nearly completed spot Finnegan was proud of is the promenade, which acts as a connector among the main entrances — exact replicas of the originals, currently being built — and the retail and restaurant spaces on the first floor.

The main hall is decorated in mirrors and gold and cream marble, with several large domed chandeliers lighting the way. First-floor tenants will include the first Spartanburg location for Sidewall Pizza, and Little River Roasting Co.’s second downtown coffee bar. Finnegan said there is space for one or two more shops to move in, depending on how much space a tenant desires.

The building's new residents will be able to move into their apartments by Nov. 15, Finnegan said, while retail and office tenants will be moving in later on their own timetables. Currently, he and Bakker expect Little River to be in by late December, followed by Sidewall Pizza in early 2019 and the office tenants by the middle of next year. Finnegan said that after work has been completed within the Montgomery Building, the crew would help out with the adjoining Carolina Theater, the outside of which was recently repainted.

The Carolina Theater is being restored and renovated to its 1920s glory by Preservation SC and its Spartanburg counterpart, the Spartanburg Preservation Fund. As of this May, the group had determined the original color scheme of the theater and had plans to restore the intricate details of the theater, from the hand-stenciled designs around the stage to a modern recreation of the original 1920s lighting. The total cost of the project is estimated to be as much as $1 million.

Spartanburg City Manager Chris Story said the Montgomery Building's location would help connect other downtown destinations, from the Spartanburg Marriott to the Chapman Cultural Center to Morgan Square and other places downtown.

“The building itself, I think is really going to be a landmark," Story said. "I think people are going to be very impressed with the quality of the project, and I think there will be literally generations of folks thrilled to see that building come back to life.”

City Councilwoman Erica Brown said she was grateful to Finnegan and Bakker for taking on the risks involved with a project that will bring so much to the community.

“I think the rebirth of the Montgomery Building means different things for a lot of people," Brown said. "For some, it is giving new life to a building that holds so many memories for those that grew up here. From an economic standpoint, we have yet another attractive building, which will help us recruit more new business and bring more people who want to live, work and play in the city. That means more dollars spent locally. That means growing our tax base in the future. That means a better and more thriving Spartanburg.”

Finnegan is looking forward to the Montgomery Building being reopened to the public and retaking its place downtown.

“I think Spartanburg is actually rising,” Finnegan said. “People have a lot of pride in this place, and it’s got a lot of unique attributes, and I think it’s got the right sort of momentum behind it.”