Last year, a 2,000-square-foot space on the top floor of a six-story apartment building in the heart of downtown Billings went on the market.
The penthouse property, at 300 N. 25th St., across Third Avenue North from the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office and the downtown bus transfer station, had once been the law offices of the late Charles “Timer” Moses. But it had been used for storage for many years, so it was basically an empty shell.
Real estate agent Tana Hergenraeder tried to interest some friends in the property. They didn’t bite, but she kept on eye on it, and she watched as the purchase price slowly dropped.
And then she made a big decision. She had spent years as an interior designer, in Florida and Montana, and here was a chance to completely redesign and renovate a spectacular space.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, really,” she said. “There’s just no other place like it in Billings.”
With financing help from her father, she plunged in. And then she made another decision. Given all the risks, she considered playing it safe, of going with a traditional, Western-style design scheme and décor.
“Bit I felt like it deserved to be something completely different,” she said.
Construction began in January and the two-bedroom, two-bath condo went on the market July 1. You can check out her gallery of photos and decide for yourself whether “completely different” is an accurate description of the condominium, which has a price tag of $335,000.
A big open space containing the living room, dining room and kitchen makes up nearly half the 2,048 square feet. A vapor fireplace serves to separate the living and dining rooms, and the kitchen features quartz countertops and a kitchen island topped with Russian olive wood.
The floors are concrete, covered with a clear epoxy, and the master bedroom has a walk-in closet and a walk-in shower with a window that looks out toward the Four Dances Natural Area, sometimes called Sacrifice Cliff.
“I really wanted to optimize the views,” Hergenraeder said. “I wanted every room to have a view.”
They do, and on the north side of the building, looking toward the Rims and the airport, there is a wide deck that runs the length of the condo.
The other half of the top floor has been occupied since 2011 by Billings attorney Jay Lansing and his wife, Jackie. Jay Lansing went to work in the Moses Law Firm in 1983 and practiced on the top floor of the Terrace building until 2000, when he and Timer Moses’ son, Michael Moses, now a District Court judge, moved into the Wells Fargo Building a block away.
Timer Moses retired in 2003 and the Terrace space sat empty for years, until the Lansings, who used to live in Briarwood, decided “we wanted to try downtown living,” according to Jay Lansing. They looked at condos all over downtown, but saw nothing they really wanted.
Jay Lansing remembered that Timer Moses and his wife, Betty, had considered building four apartments on the top floor of the Terrace, which has rental units on the other five floors, but those plans never came to fruition, so he asked about buying half the top story.
Moses was game. So the Lansings bought the space in 2011 and had the condo designed by Collaborative Design Architects, which had been working with Moses on the four-unit concept. The result was a penthouse at least as stunning as what Hergenraeder designed next door, and the Lansings have never regretted the move downtown.
“Each place downtown has its own advantages and disadvantages,” Lansing said. “The Terrace doesn’t have dedicated, covered parking, but you can’t beat the view from up there.”
He also said their patio is one of the largest outdoor residential spaces in all of the downtown, and he’s has never felt unsafe living there. They use a key-operated elevator to reach their condo and there is a locked gate at the top of the staircase.
“We both love living downtown,” he said. “I’m able to walk the two blocks to work. I never get upset about traffic.” He still has a parking space in the garage next to Wells Fargo from the days he worked there, and sometimes he’ll go days without using his car, he said. His condo is featured on the Collaborative Design Architects website, under residential projects.
Hergenraeder has been interested in interior design since she took her first design class at the Billings Career Center in high school. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the International Academy of Design and Technology in Orlando, Fla. She worked for a high-end design firm in Winter Park, Fla., before spending a few years designing and developing retail projects in health-care facilities—gift shops in hospitals and the like.
She moved back to Billings in 2009 and spent three years as an interior designer with CTA Architects Engineers, then a year with the Rimrock Cabinet Co. She had worked on a lot of residential design projects, which led to the jump to real estate sales.
“It turns out that I really, really love it,” she said, and she recently completed her second full year as a real estate agent.
This latest project is the perfect mix of her former and current careers.
“I found something like this ideal,” she said, “where I’m my own client.”