When warehouses go up for sale in Yankton they usually sit empty or are bought by companies who utilize the space for storage. They normally do not become trendy downtown homes, but that is exactly what happened when the Wenzlaffs bought the empty Wells Blue Bunny warehouse at 101 Douglas Ave.


“My husband, Mark, owns Yankton Automotive up the street,” said homeowner Cheryl Wenzlaff, “When this building came up for sale he wanted to buy it but we didn’t know what we were going to do with it.”

The building housed a large roomsized freezer used to store ice cream on the southwest side of the building, storage on the north side and an office and work area for Rod’s Cabinets on the southwest side of the building.

“We have always wanted to live downtown,” Cheryl said. “When we bought the building we owned a home on Green Street and it just happened that a realtor called and asked if we wanted to sell our house. We decided to go for it and make the warehouse into a home.”

The Wenzlaffs sold their house and moved into temporary housing for 11 months while they worked on the design plans and renovation of the warehouse into a one bedroom home. They moved into their dream home


about 9 months ago and have been enjoying life on the river in the downtown area since.


“It’s just beautiful,” Cheryl said. “I can prop my pillow up and watch the boats on the river from my bed.”

Turning a warehouse into a livable home was a monumental project but Cheryl said they just worked on one dilemma at a time.

“When we removed the freezer then we had to cut the concrete floor down to normal,” she said. “Then we had the issue with storage and a utility area because we don’t have a basement for that type of stuff.”

The couple ultimately built a loft over a portion of the building to house utility lines and storage.

The north side of the building has three large garage doors that lead to Mark’s personal shop and there is a one-car garage that Cheryl uses for her vehicle and as a party area. Cheryl, who works from home, has a private office area with an off-street entrance and the rest of the building is their home, which features an open floor plan.

The home is heated with in-floor heat and two freestanding heat pump units attached to the ceiling in the bedroom and kitchen areas, which also cool the home in the summer.

One of the unique features of the home is the inwall fireplace unit between the kitchen and bedroom that provides a light source between the two rooms and is also a thermostatically controlled heat source for the home. It looks like a window between the two rooms when the flames are not on.

“I just love the fireplace,” Cheryl said. “It’s nice to wake up in the middle of the night and see it on. It’s so peaceful and works as another source of heat for our house.”



While designing the interior of the home, Cheryl said they wanted to keep as many aspects of the warehouse as possible to get a glimpse of what the building once was.


“We kept the large copper support beam running across the ceiling in the great room,” she said.

“People have asked if we’re going to paint it but I kind of like the way it looks without anything done to it.”

While the couple was restoring the building they had a lot of interest from the community, Cheryl said.

“When we were moving the stove in we had some people stop and I could hear them talking and peeking in the doorway,” she said. “I came around the corner and they were surprised to see us. I showed them around.”

The couple hopes that people will see what they’ve done and decide to develop more of the downtown/river area.

“We really hope the fever will catch on and more people will want to do this. There is property available to develop. It would be so great if we could make this river area come alive with coffee shops, housing and more. The river is our biggest asset and we could make this a great area of town to live and work in,” she said.

To reach that end the Wenzlaffs are doing whatever they can to support the downtown area and lure more visitors to downtown Yankton.

“We really believe in supporting this area. We walk down to Bella’s for lunch and eat at The Landing and we really think it could happen that we can wake the downtown/river area up if we had what they wanted,” she said. “It’s important to support what we have now and try to lure in the type of businesses we want.”

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