I'm beginning another project or really it’s the continuation of a project or a project that needed to have been done long ago. Will be working to turn a negative into a positive, not only for me personally but for Downtown Weldon as well. Follow these post and I’ll try to keep you informed on the progress, the challengers, the frustrations and hopefully not too many disappointments and most definitely the successes.
I have given this the name of the Lemonade Project because that’s what one should do when there are lemons to be squeezed.
I have had a 20 year history in the revitalization efforts of Downtown Weldon and for a period of time my involvement has been on the back burner for various reasons, but I still own several buildings in Downtown Weldon and I need for those buildings to be successful so I’ll be making some lemonade but not just lemonade but SWEET LEMONADE.
The first effort of the Sweet Lemonade Project will be a building I bought in 2001 that use to be the Super 10, (or for some, the old Roses Building) in Downtown Weldon. Super 10 was a long term tenant of the building. But as times changed and in the name of progress, the Town of Weldon welcomed in the Family Dollar Store. Super 10 was already experiencing declining sales and the addition of a competitor that offered a new store with better parking become the reason for Super 10 to close in Downtown Weldon in January 2009. It happened at a time that was the worst of times for me personally. I had just closed a business that I had lost a lot of money in and the Great Recession had just begun. In the immediate short term, I decided the best thing to do was to put a For Rent sign in the window and do my best to make the payments.
Except for a period of about 15 months when I had the building rented to a furniture store, the building has been empty and a drag on my cash flow. It’s been a struggle at times just to make the payments and pay the taxes and insurance. For the past 2 years that has been a big For Sale sign in the front window. I thought I had it sold at one point. We had negotiated a deal and had the contract ready to sign and I haven’t heard from the man since.
The old Super 10 building at 221 Washington Ave in Downtown Weldon is a big building. The main storefront space with office and restrooms is 6000 sq ft. Its 48 feet wide and 113 feet deep in the main room. The office and restrooms are immediately adjacent to this main room. There is an attached warehouse that is another 2000 sq ft for a total 8000 sq ft. This space has been impossible to rent as is, due to its large size and rent I need to cover payment, taxes and insurance and a little extra to maintain the building. There have been some prospect but in some cases, what they wanted to do did not fit within the town’s zoning.
So now I will make some Lemonade.
Phase one on this project will be to divide the building into smaller shops. I plan to construct a hallway down the middle of the building about 50 feet deep and have shops on each side. This will allow for about half of the building to have shops fronting Washington Ave, Downtown Weldon’s Main Street.
As for the other half of the building….I’m undecided about what to do with that space. If there is demand for additional shops further into the building, I can continue the hallway. But I have received many calls from people expressing an interest in seeing the space as an Event Facility. Therefore I am exploring what I can do on my limited budget and within the building codes and zoning requirements.
But the main goal will be to do this project is such a way that it will provide a start up business with a really nice space at an affordable rent and at the same time generate enough income to turn this drag on my cash flow into a positive that I will call Sweet Lemonade.
To further my vision of the Lemonade Project, over the course of the next year or two, I plan to add 10 new storefronts on Washington Ave, Downtown Weldon’s Main Street. These will be in buildings that I already own, that has space that need some work done to them to make them rentable.
Everything I currently own is rented and I get calls all the time from people looking to open a business in Downtown Weldon. The problem is, there is nowhere for them to rent. The buildings that are empty need some work done to them to make them rentable. I will be doing my part.
The first project will be to take the old Super 10 building in the middle of the business district at 221 Washington Avenue, and create a mini mall. I will divide the current one room of 6000 sq ft into at least 6 shops with a hallway down the middle. Each shop will range in size of 600 to 1000 sq ft each. I plan to have these shops ready for rent by the Spring of 2016.
I expect the second project will at 229 & 231 Washington Avenue. This building is on the corner of Washington Avenue and 3rd Street. It’s a grand old 2 story building in Downtown Weldon with a lot of street traffic visible. Currently there are 2 storefronts of about 2000 sq ft each. The required rent on that much space would be out of range for most new business wanting to give it a go in Downtown Weldon. I plan to divide the spaces in half, creating two storefronts of about 1000 sq ft each and 2 ground floor residential apartments. Then there is the upstairs that can be developed into at least 5 apartments, but that will come much later.
The next project will be to complete the storefronts at 200 Washington Avenue on the corner of 2nd Street that has been the Hot Dog Stand. Currently the Hot Dog stands occupies one section of the building. This building is an old gas station and a few years back a closed in the garage bays with plans to create two additional small storefronts. These spaces will be in the 400 sq ft range.
These 10 new storefronts will be added to the 4 other storefronts that I currently own. As you can see I have more undeveloped space than I do ready to rent space. Lemons that need some squeezing. The Lemonade is on the way!
We have SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE. A Grand Opening, a signed lease and tenants are lining up for the Mini Mall Project.
Pocket and Budget has been in business for a year and a half in Downtown Weldon where they outgrew their space. They celebrated their Grand Opening recently at 229 Washington Avenue in a building that’s 3 times the size and a more visible location too.
Signed a lease on the hot dog stand building at 200 Washington Avenue. Will be doing some building improvements and then the tenant will be preparing for an early summer opening.
Tenants are beginning to make commitments and I’m getting a lot of interested lookers for the Mini Mall project in the building that was the Super 10. I’m divided this large building into smaller storefronts and will be promoted as a Business Incubator - Vendor Marketplace. I’m still trying to find the right name for the building, Suggestions will be welcomed.
It’s been quite an adventure the past few months. I have spent the holiday weekend working a punch list of odds and end to complete another major investment in the revitalization of Downtown Weldon. The building is now in the hands of the tenant. She will now begin to do her part to set the building up as a restaurant.
The building at 200 Washington Avenue, that most recently was the ice cream/hot dog stand will soon open as a full carry out restaurant. (plans for a dining room will be coming soon) Over the past three months I’ve been working to install a restaurant hood in the building which is required to fry anything. Previous tenants were limited in their ability to cook foods other than hot dogs. With the hood the new tenant will be able to cook everything. A future post will introduce you to the new restaurateur.
The project required working with 3 different contractors and the building inspector. One of the contractors showed up only to leave after finding out they could not install the hood with the existing ceiling, stating that it was not in their scope of work to remove the 2 inch thick cement ceiling 12 feet high . So I jumped in and did it. In the process creating lots of dust throughout the building and on me.(see pic of dust on my face) I’ve installed a new drop in ceiling, stripped and wax the floors, repaired plumbing, many odds and ends and dealt with a few injuries too.
Mixed in with the progress on the the restaurant building, I’ve made some needed improvements to the back of the building on the corner of 3rd and Washington. Needed to make it more secure to satisfy the insurance company so I could get a better rate on my insurance.
As for the Big Building that I’m divided into smaller storefronts and will be promoting as a Business Incubator - Vendor Marketplace, I’ve made a little bit of progress. Most of my time has been spent on the restaurant project. I’m at the point now that it’s going to cost a bit more than I currently have available, so I’ll be exploring options on how to make it happen.
Soon Weldon will be celebrating the Grand Opening of the restaurant, hope to see everyone!
September News Update from Downtown Weldon 9/15/16
Jenn’s Grub Shack is Open...have you seen the delicious looking food I've been sharing on Facebook? Jenn offers Daily Lunch specials ranging from Pork chops, Fish and Shrimp, Baked Ziti with sides at a very affordable price. She also has hamburgers and hot dogs and potato rounds. Stop by and “Get Your Grab On” and support local Downtown Weldon Businesses.
This Saturday there will be another Grand Opening of another business in one of my buildings. Cooking with Love Catering and Fashion & Decor is owned and operated by Rosa Banks Barber and Lillie Copeland. They will be offering Wedding Decor and Coordination, Flower Decor and Catering.
I've make a lot of progress on the big building project. Several major projects have been completed.
Converting the existing restroom to meet Handicap requirements consisted of widening the door, replacing the toilet and sink and installing hand rails.
To meet building codes, I had to install another exit door in the back of the main show room. This required cutting a hole through a 12 inch block wall and installing the door. Due to the elevation difference from the inside to the outside, I had to build a 16 foot long handicap ramp on the inside and a 5 foot deck on the outside.
The interior of the building is coming along nicely. I’ve been hanging sheetrock and will soon start mudding and sanding. When the first phase is completed the building will have 4 large shops and 10 Flea Market stalls. There will be an area unfinished and I will decide later whether the demand is for additional shops or more flea market stalls. I have been working really hard to have this building ready for showing and to begin accepting vendors in early October.
And I’ve chosen a name. Weldon Town Center. The logo will feature the name and a depiction of the skyline of buildings on the East side of Washington Avenue where this building is in the center of the Downtown Business District. It is my hope that this building will become a center of activity for Downtown Weldon and a generator of revitalization efforts.
First of all I'd like to report that Weldon faired very well during Hurricane Matthew. No damage, no flooding and all of my buildings are in good shape.
A few weeks ago I was pretty discouraged about a few things. I’m running behind schedule on finishing the work to get Weldon Town Center, Shops and Flea Market open. I was hoping to have it ready the first of October. Now I'm working toward early November. It is so very important I get it ready for vendors to move in before the Christmas shopping season. I already have 5 vendors ready to move in and they are waiting on me to finish building.
I was also discouraged that I needed to make a business decision with a tenant that has resulted in the restaurant is no longer open. I will be seeking another tenant for that property. All I will say about this is that I am a landlord not a business partner.
On a personal level, I was down a few days after catching a cold losing valuable work time to on Weldon Town Center.
Then I had to double my work hours on the paper route. I have been running a News & Observer paper route for the past 28 years. Over the past year or so I had a helper who ran half the route for me. This allowed me to only work from 4 to 7am which freed me up to work my day job and work on buildings. But due to some personal financial needs, I had to lay off my helper and do the full route myself, like I used to do. This puts me on the road 6 hours a night beginning at 11pm, 7 days a week and driving 175 miles every night.
I'm still working my day job as a Field Representative for mortgage companies, visiting properties and inspecting for occupancy and damages. This keeps me really busy for 10 days straight around the 15th of the month and then whatever it takes to meet due dates the rest of the month.
Then just last week I learned that The N&O will be increasing the sales price of the Sunday paper. This will require a lot of work to switch out the newspaper boxes where I sell papers from. A project I didn’t need added to my to do list right now.
On a more positive note...over the past week I have made a lot of progress at Weldon Town Center and this has really lifted my spirits. I finished hanging, mudding and sanding the sheetrock. Now I’m painting, which will take several days. First a primer coat on all the walls then a finish coat. In the attached photo, you may not be able to tell, but that paint color is Lemonade yellow to go along with this being what I have call the Lemonade Project. For more infomation on that visit www.weldonnc.com
Then I’ll need to CLEAN, lots of CLEANING. I'm doing all the work myself, can't afford to pay for labor. And I’m stretching the few dollars I can scrape together to buy the needed materials.
There are so many things to do and others things I want to do to promote and build up Weldon. I have to keep reminding myself...one step at a time.
Stay tuned…. I hope in just a few days, I’ll be announcing Weldon Town Center opening date.