Pappas Development begins demolition of last barbed wire factory in DeKalb

City’s last barbed wire factory site will become Agora Tower

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DeKALB – The last barbed wire factory in DeKalb reached the end of its days Monday, as Pappas Development LLC construction crews began demolishing the property that has sat on the corner of North Fourth and Locust streets since 1881.

DeKalb-based Pappas Development’s third mix-used development, Agora Tower, will stand on the site once occupied by the former Mooney car dealership.

The $13.8 million project will take two and a half years to complete, developer John Pappas has said. Crews were excavating the properties Monday at 204 N. Fourth St. and 423/420 Oak St. in DeKalb. The building has been mostly vacant since it ceased to be an auto dealership in 2012. It once was known as the “Red Shop” and was a barbed-wire manufacturing site that opened in 1881.

Foti Pappas, vice president of development at Pappas Development, said the demolition will take two to three weeks, and the work will not interfere with downtown traffic.

“They’ll clean and prep the site,” Pappas said Monday. “There shouldn’t be any interruption. Really it’s just site demolition of the building, hauling off materials, and then leaving a flat playing field [for Agora Tower]. The real action will begin in the spring.”

Pappas said passersby will notice trucks hauling off debris, although some materials from the Mooney site will be preserved and reused for Agora Tower as a nod to its historic roots.

“A lot of it we’re going to be able to recycle and break down so we can use it as foundation,” he said. “A lot of the concrete and brick.”

“Agora” in ancient Greek means a public space used for assemblies or markets. The 113,000-square-foot mixed-used complex, which will sit on a 3-acre site, will be similar in style to Cornerstone DeKalb and Plaza DeKalb, the latter of which Pappas said will be completed by the end of December.

The new four-story building will feature 94 high-end apartment units with retail and office space on the first floor. The project was awarded $3 million in tax increment financing money by the city.

Site plans show the complex will offer one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, with furnished ones optional and in-unit washers and dryers. Pappas said amenities will include a movie theater room, fitness center, business center, meeting room, hospitality room and guest restrooms, and on-site professional management. Plans show 10% of the units will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.