The Nolan Townhomes are seen as the first phase nears completion on the corner of David and Midwest Streets in the Old Yellowstone District in Casper on Aug. 17, 2023. Landscaping will include vines separating each unit's ground-floor patio. (Greta Cepeda, special to Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — Most can agree that the Old Yellowstone District, or OYD, on the west edge of Casper’s traditional downtown has made a remarkable transformation over the past several years, evolving from a collection of old service stations, tire shops, tattered warehouses and other industrial ghosts into a trendy arts and entertainment district.

While that transformation is still taking place, one key ingredient to the urban lifestyle has been mostly absent. That’s something the Brick & Bond developers hope to change.

Ghost signs were preserved inside the original Nolan auto dealership, which had been completely covered by an addition and remodel for Plains Furniture. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

Brick & Bond — one of the True companies and a substantial property owner in the OYD — is nearing the completion of three out of seven luxury townhomes just south of what was originally Nolan Chevrolet, a 1920s-era building that for decades was hidden under a 1970s-era addition for Plains Furniture. That historic brick building has undergone extensive preservation and renovation efforts, and now serves as home base for Black Tooth Brewing Company and taproom and will eventually house two other commercial tenants.

The patio for Black Tooth Brewing is seen from the inside of the historic Nolan building. Black Tooth Brewing was the first anchor tenant of the project. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

The townhomes will be a unique and first-of-its-kind addition to Casper’s housing stock, according to Martin Axlund, director and broker with Brick & Bond.

“Our focus has been, what will it take to bring people into downtown, and once they’re here, how do we keep them?” he said. “We know that market-rate housing in the interior of downtown is very important to its life and vibrancy, and that’s why the townhomes play such a vital role in Casper’s continued development.”

One of the main points Axlund makes is the units are specifically townhomes rather than condominiums. “A townhome in this sense is it is one stacked unit,” he said. “A condo, you actually own airspace, when in this sense you actually own the land under the townhome and each floor.”

Exterior finishing on The Nolan Townhomes is a combination of cement board and shou sugi ban siding. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

Each three-floor unit contains a total of 2,845 square feet of living space featuring three bedrooms and three bathrooms, and includes a large ground-floor garage accessible in the back. A small “flex room” in front of the garage faces David Street and can be configured for a variety of uses. The second floor is a large, open living area with an open kitchen near the west wall. There are two kitchen designs available, allowing a choice for more living or more kitchen room. The third floor features a master bedroom and bathroom, along with the two standard bedrooms and another bath. Finally, each unit features its own private rooftop patio. Axlund says the units are heavily reinforced and insulated to keep outside and neighbor noises to a minimum, and nearly all of the interior casework is custom made and designed.

The façade uses advanced cement board siding, complemented with shou sugi ban siding, a Japanese technology utilizing specially charred wood that is claimed to naturally repel insects.

Some of the siding on the new Nolan Townhomes uses shou sugi ban siding, a Japanese technology utilizing specially charred wood that is claimed to naturally repel insects. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

“You see them a lot in Colorado and California and other parts of the country, but this is the first time anything like this has been built in Wyoming,” Axlund said.

The final design is a notable change from what was originally proposed when The Nolan project got underway in 2019. FLAG Development’s plan to rescue the old, neglected dealership from demolition envisioned a mix of condominiums, retail and co-working space. This was all before the COVID pandemic changed everything.

“A lot happened during the COVID era that changed the economics of projects on pricing and everything, so we wanted to take another look and make sure we got it right,” Axlund said.

Architect Lyle Murtha and Brick & Bond’s Martin Axlund look through a large window facing David Street in the living room area of a Nolan Townhome recently. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

After taking over the project, Brick & Bond hired Stateline No. 7 architect and owner Lyle Murtha to help find a new direction.

“There was a reset on both the historic part and [the new] one,” Murtha said.

“Rather than have me assuming what everyone wanted in a townhome, we drew in a focus group to find exactly what they wanted in here for features,” he said. “They also drove us to the concept of providing [things] you can’t get elsewhere in town, and that’s what drove the modern look and feel.”

Each townhome has an individual rooftop terrace overlooking the Old Yellowstone District. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

“There are very few options in all of Wyoming for urban living,” he said. “Casper has very few options and no townhomes, so this is meant to fill that void.”

Modern, clean exterior design contrasts with the traditional brick of the older buildings while also providing homey comforts such as large windows and multiple patios. The materials and design are meant to give the homeowner the option of completely isolating from the outside world or being involved in the activities, energy and attractions of the growing district.

An open kitchen faces the living room area on the second floor of the Nolan Townhomes. Another available floor plan features a long galley kitchen. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

The choice of finishing and construction materials presented new challenges as well, according to contractor Jeff Harmsen, of Copperleaf Custom Builders.

“There were systems that we needed to study up on and familiarize ourselves and our crews as far as installation goes,” he said.

Foundations for the next round of townhomes are under construction now, just as the first two are about to hit the market.

The unique design and build quality comes at a cost. With prices ranging from $975,000 to just under $1.1 million, what that market is able to sustain remains to be seen. But with an evolving remote work-from-home culture — combined with the OYD’s growing attractions — Axlund believes that Casper is ready to support more urban living concepts.

A view from the third floor of a Nolan Townhome facing David Street. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

“How do we create an area where our kids want to come back to and more people want to come down and stay after work?” he said. “That’s what we want to create.”

More information on The Nolan Townhomes can be found here at their website.

Additional reading on The Nolan redevelopment: