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Business Pulse - Renovations get kicking at old shoe factory
adam bouldin
Adam Bouldin of Tri-State Development stands by old lighting that's being replaced at the building on Garfield Street that was most recently Metal Products Company.

Job creation is a wonderful thing.

Tri-State Development is undertaking a complete, top-to-bottom renovation of the old MPC building on Garfield Street that’s probably best known for once being a shoe factory.

The building is an older one, constructed around 1930, but it will be fully functional when Tri-State work is complete. Upgrades include a new roof, new ground-floor windows, new offices, new lighting, and new electrical wiring.

“We’d love to be able to bring 50 jobs in here,” said Adam Bouldin, who operates Tri-State with his dad, Keith. “We think we’ll have everything done at the end of February or early March and I don’t think it’s going to be difficult to find a tenant. I’ve received two calls already, but they’re already gone other places. Everything is on site, the new roof is here and the new windows are here, for us to finish the project.”

Adam says managing supply chain issues has been like a bad headache, but now that all the materials are on the property he thinks the February-March completion date will be accurate. Shoe production took place for years at the facility which has 50,000 square feet available in its main building. The property was most recently home to Metal Products Company which had a workforce approaching 50 just two years ago but closed its doors.

“We’re trying to do our small part,” said Adam. “This has been a massive undertaking and a significant investment, but it’s a good investment. Most businesses don’t want to take on a project like this and we’re in a position where we could get it done quickly. It didn’t need to be a job that lingered for two years. Our goal is to get the best tenant in here with the most jobs.”

Chris Lack worked at MPC for 17 years and was hired by Tri-State when MPC closed. He says it’s been neat restoring a building he worked in for so long.

Two other interesting factors accompany the property. One, it has a water tower which is no longer functional but it sure is tall. Adam says they are considering how to repaint the water tower. I think that’s a great idea because a new water tower paint job can really change a skyline.

Two, there will be 180 storage units constructed on the end of the property closest to Milner Recreation Center. Adam says the 180 units will be in three long buildings.

“More people are moving into this area and they’re needing bigger storage units for their stuff,” said Adam. The 180 units will represent 30,000 square feet of storage.

Storage units seem to get filled quickly around these parts so there must definitely be a need. Much of our new construction lately has been storage units.

Tri-State Development is a company which has really made an impact on Warren County. It built the Chamber of Commerce building, our first spec building which is now Morrison Industries, and DN Plastics on Manchester Highway.

Keith recently estimated he thinks Tri-State has constructed some 200 buildings in Warren County since the company was established in 1978.

Three Sisters

Is downtown

If you have a burning desire for candles and candle supplies, the place to go is Three Sisters Candle Co. on Main Street. It’s located in the newly renovated Fraley’s building, which has been a huge burst of momentum for downtown McMinnville.

Cassie Johnson owns and operates the business. It’s named Three Sisters because she has three daughters who all give her a hand – Abbi, Ally and Emma Johnson. Her husband Joseph has been the man with the plan when it comes to in-store handyman work.

“We do everything right here,” said Cassie, who said the location serves as a retail center and a fully working candle shop.

“This started as a hobby that began to do well when I opened an Etsy shop in 2019,” said Cassie. “It was a case where I needed more space than my house could provide so we’ve opened here.”

As you’d expect, the store is filled with candles and embracing scents. There are wicks, jars, fragrances, and wax available for those who want to do it themselves. There are also wax melts, which Cassie says have become extremely popular.

“Some people get to a stage where they’re tired of burning candles and they graduate to wax melts,” said Cassie. “There’s no flame to worry about which can be a concern if you have pets.”

If you’d like to pour your own candle, Three Sisters will be offering that opportunity in January. Reservations will be accepted for after-hours appointments and groups can be accommodated.

“It can make for a fun downtown activity,” said Cassie. “The smaller candles take about 45 minutes to an hour to cool so you can get done here and then go out to eat while you wait. The bigger candles take a little longer to cool so for those you’d have to come back the next day.”

Cassie said she’s been pleasantly surprised by the high energy downtown and the level of activity.

“There were carriage rides here last weekend and a lot of people came down for that,” said Cassie. “I’ve found there are so many people looking to support local business. We’ve had a really diverse customer base, both other and younger shoppers have been coming here.”

Three Sisters is open Tuesday thru Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number is (931) 414-4056. 

Retail center

Getting completed

Our new Hampton Inn hotel on Sparta Street has been a thing of beauty for Warren County with high occupancy rates. During the monthly Industrial Development Board meeting on Thursday it was noted the hotel was at 100% occupancy over Thanksgiving weekend and has been near capacity on most nights.

“It’s been great for us because we have people in town working weekly, if not daily,” said Ben Lomand Connect CEO Greg Smartt.

Now that the hotel is fully operational, much attention has been directed to the unfinished retail center in front. The retail center was supposed to be finished and with vibrant tenants around the same time the hotel opened. That hasn’t happened.

This is a concern for the IDB because hotel owner David Hunt received a TIF for the project. This stands for tax increment financing and it’s an agreement which lets the recipient enjoy property tax savings.

Mr. Hunt would like to start receiving his TIF savings on the hotel now, even though the agreement states the hotel and retail center should both be complete for that to happen. The IDB discussed working to modify some language to allow Mr. Hunt to begin receiving TIF savings on the hotel. He will then use that money to finish the retail center.

Michael Griffith of Security Federal has been working closely with Mr. Hunt on financing parts of the project. Griff was asked to attend the Industrial Board meeting to discuss the hotel and retail center.

“The retail center is 75% complete for all intents and purposes,” said Michael. “I know it says 50% for tax purposes but it’s further along than that.”

He said Mr. Hunt has two signed letters of intent, which are not leases, for tenants looking to locate in the retail center. At one point the retail center was on the market to be sold unfinished, but Mr. Hunt is now dedicated to finishing it, Michael reported.

A lengthy discussion ensued about allowing Hunt to start receiving TIF benefits on the hotel before the retail center is finished. It appears the Industrial Board is moving in the direction, but it will likely take a few more meetings before everything is ironed out.

“At the end of the day, you’ll get the end result you wanted in a new hotel and retail center,” said Griff.

That’s all folks

Next week will be a special Christmas edition of Business Pulse where I invite everyone to give me gifts. No gift is too small.

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