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Haunted House Part of San Antonio Apartment Lofts

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Open Road Films

    The East Side building Gordon Wise lives in isn't haunted, but part of it is a haunted house.

    Wise, the co-owner of the defunct Nightmare on Grayson haunted house near the Pearl, lives in a loft apartment he built inside a former meat processing warehouse on East Commerce Street, just blocks from the AT&T Center.

    But that's not all there is to the space.

    Just down the hall from his 2,000-square-foot apartment is a fully operational haunted house and what Wise calls the world's only Ouija board museum.

    He doesn't plan on being the only resident, though. Wise and his partners started work to build other units -- as many as 16 apartments.

    "It probably comes across to a lot of people as chaotic," said Wise, 46, who studied historic preservation and has restored Victorian homes in Georgia. "But we're doing this for people who want to be a part of something not traditional or normal."

    And he tells the San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/1j2RR4h) that he's already found people willing to embrace his vision. About half of the proposed units are spoken for and under construction.

    Units will range in size from about 800-square-foot studios to 3,500-square-foot three bedroom apartments. Spaces are built with repurposed materials, and units have an industrial character with finishes such as exposed brick walls, air ducts and plumbing and polished concrete floors.

    Rental rates will range from about 80 cents per square foot to roughly $1 per square foot. The average rental rate for an apartment in that area of the city is about 80 cents per square foot, says Austin Investor Interests, a multifamily research firm.

    Some units are expected to be done in a matter of weeks. But Wise said the entire complex could be complete and filled in about a year.

    With more than 30,000 visitors a season, the haunted house operation had outgrown the Grayson Street location, which opened in 1989. It closed following the 2012 Halloween season. The building currently is for sale, but Wise and his partners also are considering building out about a dozen live-work spaces there.

    In March 2013, Wise and his partners purchased the 50,000-square-foot building, which was vacant for years, and the nearly 7-acre lot where it sits at 3363 E. Commerce St. The site's location falls within the East Side Promise Zone, one of a handful of communities across the nation that the federal government targeted for revitalization efforts.

    The area is mostly inhabited with industrial sites such as Coca-Cola bottling plant and the headquarters for Walton Signage. Even though the loft project is small-scale, it brings investment to an area that historically hasn't seen much.

    "It's an interesting use of a building that for so long was empty," said Jackie Gorman, executive director of San Antonio for Growth on the East Side. "I'm personally always happy to see an empty building brought back to life.

    "A lot of other large urban areas, they've taken industrial spaces and turned them into living spaces. So I'm excited to see if this really works."

    Wise is betting that they'll be successful. Indeed, he's already looking for another property to buy to develop more lofts.

    Meanwhile, work continues to maintain the haunted house called Nightmare on Commerce. Employees are building new sets and rooms where actors dressed as zombies and demonic clowns will attempt to scare people out of their wits during shows. Also, he plans to bring in carnival rides for the upcoming Halloween season.

    With less gore but maybe just as creepy, the Talking Board Museum is filled with dozens of Ouija boards of varying shapes and sizes.

    The museum is open by appointment only during the off-season, but during Halloween, a Ouija board reader will be on site daily.

    But the eeriness or distraction of having a haunted house and a room full of Ouija boards nearby didn't keep Andrea McGarity from reserving a unit. She and her husband make custom furniture out of their Alamo Heights home, but have run out of space. They were sold as soon as they toured the warehouse space, she said. And because Halloween is the couple's favorite holiday, living next to a haunted house was icing on the cake.

    "We have more Halloween decorations than Christmas decorations," said McGarity, 38. "I can't wait for it to be Halloween. We'd love to work the haunted house. It's right up our alley."

    The East Side building Gordon Wise lives in isn't haunted, but part of it is a haunted house.

    Wise, the co-owner of the defunct Nightmare on Grayson haunted house near the Pearl, lives in a loft apartment he built inside a former meat processing warehouse on East Commerce Street, just blocks from the AT&T Center.

    But that's not all there is to the space.

    Just down the hall from his 2,000-square-foot apartment is a fully operational haunted house and what Wise calls the world's only Ouija board museum.

    He doesn't plan on being the only resident, though. Wise and his partners started work to build other units -- as many as 16 apartments.

    "It probably comes across to a lot of people as chaotic," said Wise, 46, who studied historic preservation and has restored Victorian homes in Georgia. "But we're doing this for people who want to be a part of something not traditional or normal."

    And he's already found people willing to embrace his vision. About half of the proposed units are spoken for and under construction.

    Units will range in size from about 800-square-foot studios to 3,500-square-foot three bedroom apartments. Spaces are built with repurposed materials, and units have an industrial character with finishes such as exposed brick walls, air ducts and plumbing and polished concrete floors.

    Rental rates will range from about 80 cents per square foot to roughly $1 per square foot. The average rental rate for an apartment in that area of the city is about 80 cents per square foot, says Austin Investor Interests, a multifamily research firm.

    Some units are expected to be done in a matter of weeks. But Wise said the entire complex could be complete and filled in about a year.

    With more than 30,000 visitors a season, the haunted house operation had outgrown the Grayson Street location, which opened in 1989. It closed following the 2012 Halloween season. The building currently is for sale, but Wise and his partners also are considering building out about a dozen live-work spaces there.

    In March 2013, Wise and his partners purchased the 50,000-square-foot building, which was vacant for years, and the nearly 7-acre lot where it sits at 3363 E. Commerce St. The site's location falls within the East Side Promise Zone, one of a handful of communities across the nation that the federal government targeted for revitalization efforts.

    The area is mostly inhabited with industrial sites such as Coca-Cola bottling plant and the headquarters for Walton Signage. Even though the loft project is small-scale, it brings investment to an area that historically hasn't seen much.

    "It's an interesting use of a building that for so long was empty," said Jackie Gorman, executive director of San Antonio for Growth on the East Side. "I'm personally always happy to see an empty building brought back to life.

    "A lot of other large urban areas, they've taken industrial spaces and turned them into living spaces. So I'm excited to see if this really works."

    Wise is betting that they'll be successful. Indeed, he's already looking for another property to buy to develop more lofts.

    Meanwhile, work continues to maintain the haunted house called Nightmare on Commerce. Employees are building new sets and rooms where actors dressed as zombies and demonic clowns will attempt to scare people out of their wits during shows. Also, he plans to bring in carnival rides for the upcoming Halloween season.

    With less gore but maybe just as creepy, the Talking Board Museum is filled with dozens of Ouija boards of varying shapes and sizes.

    The museum is open by appointment only during the off-season, but during Halloween, a Ouija board reader will be on site daily.

    But the eeriness or distraction of having a haunted house and a room full of Ouija boards nearby didn't keep Andrea McGarity from reserving a unit. She and her husband make custom furniture out of their Alamo Heights home, but have run out of space. They were sold as soon as they toured the warehouse space, she said. And because Halloween is the couple's favorite holiday, living next to a haunted house was icing on the cake.

    "We have more Halloween decorations than Christmas decorations," said McGarity, 38. "I can't wait for it to be Halloween. We'd love to work the haunted house. It's right up our alley."