A developer has purchased the historic Palmetto Building in downtown Anderson and plans to put loft apartments in the space.

John Ferguson, who has spent three decades in the insurance business, said the building on South Murray Avenue is part of his "retirement plan," and represents his first major project as a property developer.

Ferguson, who now lives in Williamston. said he looked all over the Upstate for the right property before he studied the Palmetto Building and decided it was the right fit.

"When you don't know exactly what you want to do, as I didn't, the best thing you can do is talk to as many developers and experts as possible," he said. "I consistently heard from developers and officials that residential development in a downtown drives retail growth and office growth and the right kind of growth.

"A spot in Anderson was a good fit for me because I grew up near the city on Shackleburg Road. It also matters to me, because I see the empty storefronts downtown and maybe a residential project would help fill some of those."

The 33,000-square-foot Palmetto Building was built near the turn of the 20th century. For much of its existence, the building served as a warehouse for the former Sullivan Hardware Company.

More recently, the building space was divided into multiple parcels with different owners. Part of it was used as office space for a time. But in recent months, it has sat vacant, its grand windows dirty and its door padlocked.

Ferguson said he bought the building a little at a time, starting in 2015. The third floor was bank owned and was the first section he bought. He bought the remaining space as his finances allowed, completing the purchase about four months ago.

Ferguson said he plans to have 20 to 30 apartments in the building. The exact number will depend on whether he makes the whole structure residential space or whether he leaves some of it for some other type of development, he said. He plans to have one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 800 square feet to 1,200 square feet.

He is targeting three types of customers: young singles or couples with no children, empty nesters who don't want a large space to maintain, and people who are in the Anderson area for six to 12 months on business. He said he is not yet sure what the price point on the apartments will be, or when major work will be underway.