A surprising number of business and building developments crowded into the closing weeks of the year. I’ll cover a few today and others in upcoming posts. Most of these have been reported elsewhere, though some have not, to my knowledge, and I thought they should be mentioned in this space in case some of it slipped by my readers. Some are certainties and some are rumors of various likelihoods. All of them indicate the momentum seen downtown in the last several years is continuing apace, if not accelerating.
As Josh Flory reported in his Property Scope Blog, the owners of the Medical Arts Building announced they will convert the space from commercial to residential, offering seventy-five residences ranging from studio to two-bedroom. They cited the weak demand for commercial space and the fact that the massive building had only eighteen tenants. With the parking garage located beneath the building, this makes a very attractive residential offering.
Taking a larger view of downtown, this should be a very good thing, as it promises to increase the population of the center city while spreading residences to new section. This, in turn, should make additional spaces more attractive to potential businesses as those residents will likely walk from Main Street to Market Square, increasing the pedestrian traffic in that section of town.
Immediately, a question loomed in my mind: What about Pop Culture? As the lone retail business trying to make a go of it on that end of town, I worried that this unique venture would be lost to the city. Not to worry. According to the Pop Culture Facebook Page, the business will relocate into a small walk-up space in the Walnut Building across from the Lawson McGhee Library. This should be a better location for owner Jason Mitchell due to the proximity to the library, the Hilton and . . . the fact that seventy-five new residence are going into the Medical Arts Building and those people will walk right past his new shop on the way to Market Square. See how this works?
Also announced in the last days of the year was the pending closure of Crass Couture on Market Square a year and a half after it assumed the space formerly occupied by Black Market. It’s a setback in my increasingly strong desire to see Market Square fully occupied. I spoke with the owner Kristi Lannon who said she planned to continue selling merchandise via a “Crass Mobile Boutique Truck.” She said it could likely pop up downtown as well as in other locations. I wish her the best and now we need a new business at 23 Market Square.
Finally, for today, the Rebori Building at the corner of Vine and Gay on the 100 Block of Gay Street was sold last spring for 1.3 million dollars. The three story building, built in 1885 as the original Lawson-McGhee Library, has in recent years included retail on the front of the first floor and a massive residence on the other 2 1/2 floors. The new owners will maintain the building as a residence and recently gained approval to add a garage and two balconies behind the building.
Whether related to the change in ownership, I’m not certain, but Nouveau Classics, the furniture store which had operated from the front of the building since September 2010, has decided to move down the street. They will exit 128 S. Gay Street and move into the new development a block away at the corner of Gay and Jackson in the Three Feathers Building. After some updating to the retail space in the Rebori Building, a new tenant will be sought to replace the departing furniture store.
So, that’s a start on some of the end-of-the-year developments which will fuel changes in the upcoming year. There’s more, of course, and I’ll try to pull together additional pieces in tomorrow’s post as well as several to come.