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Flagstad 1-12052014150621

A weathered sign above Flagstad Flowers on Winnebago Street hints at the business' long-time presence in the area.

For months, sheets of brown paper have covered the windows of the old Flagstad Flower Shop near the corner of Winnebago Street and Atwood Avenue on Madison’s east side, the neon sign dark above the faded green awnings.

Inside, building owner Troy Rost is working on gutting the building, rewiring it, installing new plumbing and adding drywall with hopes of attracting a new retail tenant.

“The building just sat vacant longer than we wanted to,” Rost said.

Flagstad Flower Shop closed in December 2014 after more than 70 years at 1965 Winnebago St.

When they purchased the property about a year and a half ago, Rost and his partners were in the middle of renovating the historic Stamm House in Middleton into a new restaurant. Originally anticipated for opening as early as spring 2014, the new 1847 at the Stamm House restaurant didn’t open until May 2015.

“We basically went for two years killing ourselves with that restaurant,” Rost said. “We were tired.”

In recent months, Rost has turned his attention to the Flagstad property, gutting it down to the studs and putting it back together.

The first-floor spaces are now listed on PropertyDrive, a commercial real estate listing service, and Rost said he has shown it to a few people.

“I’d really like a tenant who wants to do retail,” Rost said.

The Schenk’s Corners area at the intersection of Atwood and Winnebago has revived in recent years, with new restaurants, cafes, art studios and retail.

Rost said he’s not in a position right now to build out a restaurant and said he thinks retail is a “better fit” than office space.

Another small storefront sits next to the main shop, which Rost hopes to lease to a barber or stylist. It has the original tin ceilings of an “old-school two-chair barber shop,” Rost said, and he is laying down porcelain tile on the floor.

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“I think it’s going to be a really neat shot from the past,” Rost said.

Upstairs, there is office space and an apartment, all of which Rost gutted and is refinishing.

As for the neon, flowered Flagstad sign out front, Rost said he is leaving it up until he knows what’s going in the space.

“I think that neon was an iconic sign,” Rost said, “so hopefully the city would allow us to put another neon sign.”

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