Downtown looks to move on after fire, purchase of buildings


Seymour Main Street hadn’t planned on spending thousands of dollars to purchase and remodel two downtown buildings in 2017.

Having finally sold the former Knights of Pythias building at 103 N. Chestnut St. in 2016, the organization wanted to step away from the role of landlord to invest in helping other property owners fix up their buildings and attracting new businesses and visitors to the downtown.

But after a fire broke out Jan. 4, 2017, in the former Hair Force Beauty Academy building at 110 W. Second St., Seymour Main Street knew it had to step up or the downtown would suffer, both aesthetically and economically. The fire caused major damage to the academy and nearly destroyed the building next door at 108 W. Second St., which housed Isabel’s Estetica and Novedades Maria.

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The organization worked with the building owners and reached an agreement to purchase the two properties so they could be remodeled with the intent of putting them up for sale.

So far, Seymour Main Street has invested $102,036 in 110 W. Second St. and $56,412 in 108 W. Second St. That includes purchase price, utilities, insurance, taxes and remodeling costs.

“With those two acquisitions, we did incur a little expense in our budget to the tune of about $150,000,” said Brandon Hunsley, who served as vice president of the Seymour Main Street board of directors last year and now serves as president.

Progress on both properties continues with 110 W. Second St. nearing completion.

“We had budgeted right at $75,000 for both buildings. The one building, we have fully used that budget,” Hunsley said of 110 W. Second St. “I think we went over $425 on that remodel, but that’s OK. We’ve still got about another $21,000 we’re going to put into 108 to go ahead and finish that up and get it to the point where we can promote that for sale and hopefully bring in another business.”

What kind of business will depend on how the buildings are marketed and who is interested, but there are plenty of ideas floating around.

Matt Nieman of Seymour said he would like to see another sandwich shop and deli with an open-air dining and drinking area on the second floor.

A bookstore was suggested by Seymour resident Floyd Amburgey.

And Teresa Sturgill of Seymour said the buildings would be a good location for a soup kitchen to feed the hungry.

Other suggestions have included an internet cafe and a family-friendly pool hall and arcade.

The Seymour Redevelopment Commission gave $125,000 of its revenue last year to help Seymour Main Street with its efforts in revitalizing downtown, and Hunsley said he hoped to see that increase to $200,000 this year.

“They’ve been very supportive of all the work we’ve been doing downtown,” Hunsley said of the city.

Other major funding sources include memberships to Seymour Main Street, the annual Dancing with the Seymour Stars fundraiser and local and state grants.

Former Seymour Main Street President Tom Goecker, who is overseeing the remodeling work, said the aluminum for the new storefront on 110 W. Second St. was supposed to be delivered last week, and windows would be installed by the end of the month if the weather cooperates.

One of the best features of the building’s interior is its tin ceiling, Goecker said.

“I would say 90 to 95 percent of the tin ceiling is intact,” he said. “It’s a very beautiful building.”

A few people have walked through it, and commercial real estate agent Mike Kopp is helping to market the property.

“I think there may be some people interested in it,” Goecker said. “It has a lot of potential. The upstairs is wide open, and I think Mike has sparked a lot of interest and ideas.”

The building at 108 W. Second St. presents more challenges, Goecker said.

Early on, there was discussion about tearing the building down due to the extent of the damage from the fire, but Seymour Main Street nixed that idea in favor of repairing the structure.

“The first floor is intact,” Goecker said. “The back half of that building we actually tore the whole second floor off of, so it will only end up being a story and a half when completed.”

He believes the building was erected in the 1940s or ‘50s.

Goecker plans to get the building cleaned out, take down the existing steel beams and install new ones.

Because of the fragile nature of the masonry work on the walls, Goecker said he needs the weather to warm up so work can be completed.

“It’s been a little bit of an issue with the way the weather has been,” he said.

The brick facade will have to be removed due to structural issues, and the new facade will be similar to what has been done at 110 W. Second St., he said.

Work is expected to be completed sometime this spring.

Goecker said he also was able to save some metal cornice work from a downtown building that was razed, which he hopes to have rehabilitated and be able to use as molding in 108 W. Second St.

Preserving the historic downtown is part of Seymour Main Street’s mission, and Becky Schepman, the organization’s executive director, is glad they are able to accomplish that by restoring the buildings.

“If the city had to restore the buildings, it would have taken a lot more time and red tape, and we may have lost some of the interesting historical elements,” she said.

Even with the weather and not having enough people to do the remodeling work, Schepman said she is happy with the progress so far.

“I still think that a year later to have one almost ready to go on the market is fantastic,” she said. “We have had a lot of interest so far. We have already shown it several times, and I just received another call about them yesterday (Tuesday), so I am very optimistic that we will have great, thriving businesses in them soon.”

She envisions another new restaurant going in one of the buildings.

“With the new downtown park being completed in May and the events we anticipate we will be holding there, I am expecting a lot more foot traffic and nighttime patrons,” she said. “I think a restaurant/bar combination would really thrive.”

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