Loft Realty moves into Downtown Milford’s historic Pikus Building

Zachary Foust stands in the new Loft Realty office located in the old Lou’s Bootery building in downtown Milford. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

MILFORD — When a fast-growing local real estate company needed a bigger, more modern space, it moved into a nearly 200-year-old building in the North Milford Historic District.

“The significance of this place is that it’s right on the corner, it’s one of the first things you see going into downtown,” Loft Realty owner Zachary Foust said of the Pikus Building at 48 N. Walnut St., constructed in 1843. “It’s a cultural centerpiece in Milford.”

Until 2015, the first-floor storefront was home to Lou’s Bootery — a local institution manned by cobbler Skip Pikus.

“Skip was a very good friend,” said Daniel Bond, who restored the Pikus Building before Loft Realty moved in. “Skip’s father started a shoe store there in 1947,” which “managed to survive … to when Skip died in 2015.”

Mr. Bond, who owns 10 historic structures in town including the Towers Bed and Breakfast, said everyone in Milford knew Mr. Pikus, a former City Council member.

Zachary Foust talks with Jordan Butcher in the new Loft Realty office located in the old Lou’s Bootery building in downtown Milford. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“Everybody in Milford knows Lou’s Bootery because that was the go-to place for your good shoes, particularly baby shoes,” Mr. Bond said. “Everybody would take their babies to be fitted properly because that was Skip’s specialty.”

Mr. Foust has “conversations every day with someone who has a memory of the past owner of Lou’s Bootery, about coming here and getting their shoes fit when they were kids,” he said.

Mr. Bond bought the building, which he said is Milford’s oldest, in 2016 and restored it with the help of state and federal tax credits. Without that assistance, he said it would have been unfeasible to save the old structure, which also once housed a Masonic Lodge on the third floor.

Mr. Bond said that now, there are two apartments on the second and third floors in addition to the ground-floor space Loft Realty rents.

“The storefronts were always there,” Mr. Foust said, “but literally everything is new … from the quarter-round trim around the floor to the paint to the ceiling to the lighting fixtures.”

Jordan Butcher, Loft Realty’s marketing director, said that although Mr. Bond “had to meet the regulations of the (Milford) Historical Society … the inside is a lot more modern than our previous building,” at 10 S. Walnut St. “It fit our vibe a lot better.”

Initially, Mr. Bond had listed the property with Loft Realty, but after looking at the space himself, Mr. Foust decided it would be a perfect fit for his company.

“We couldn’t choose a better location,” Mr. Foust said. “It’s the hub of two main roads, Walnut and Front streets.”

He also appreciates the history.

“This corner, in general, has seen the most in downtown Milford,” Mr. Foust said. “It’s just adjacent to the giant beautiful bank. On the other corner is the old J.C. Penney building.”

Loft Realty’s move into the Pikus Building is a testament to the fact that new ideas and old spaces are not incompatible, he said.

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