Power Mercantile Building has new owners

By: 
CHARLIE DENISON
Reporter

Lisa Wright stands outside the former Reids Department store building on Thursday. Wright and her husband, Theo, recently purchased the building and have plans to renovate it. Photo by Jacques Rutten

Looking across the street from his office in the Warr-Lane Building on 309 W. Main Street, Theo Wright couldn’t help but take pride in what he saw: the Power Mercantile Building (also known as the Reid’s Building), which now belongs to him and his wife, Lisa, as of Dec. 19. “We’ve had an interest in attaining this building since Reid’s first closed its operation in the fall of 2011, “Theo said. “At the time we didn’t have the time or energy to spend on it so we didn’t pursue it.” In December of 2016, however, the Wrights were in a better place, having just sold the Judith Theatre Building to the Polson Theatres, Inc. “With that sale, we finally had the time and energy we needed to make this happen.” The Power Mercantile Building – originally constructed at the turn of the century (1901) and completed in 1913 – has a rich history in the heart of downtown Main Street. It’s especially been known for its retail history, hosting Woolworth’s, Anthony’s and Reid’s. “This building was an important part of downtown,” Theo said. “We think it is important for the building to be occupied and active.” At this time, there are no renters, and the Wrights don’t have a specific plan in mind for the building, but interest is out there and both Theo and Lisa are optimistic the spaces will fill. But before anybody starts renting, there is work to be done, and that’s where the Wrights priority lies. “We don’t have a specific plan for the building at this point,” Theo said. “Right now we are beginning the process of rehabilitation and are making plans for stabilizing the exterior.” Preparation will take time, Theo said, but it’s necessary. “The Power Mercantile Building is more of a development project, really,” he said. “It’s like a piece of raw land that needs to be developed.. Like a shell.” Although Theo is positive the spaces will fill, he does not anticipate as much business from retail. “As a landlord, you have to be flexible when it comes to what the renters want to do with the space,” Theo said. “There could be retail uses. I wouldn’t rule that out, but I’d say it’s highly unlikely someone is going to take retail space.” The main floor of the Power Mercantile Building is a large area, Theo said, encompassing 11,000 square feet. In the past, it hasn’t been uncommon to the building to be divided into three spaces, and he can see that again being the case. “Dividing is a way to get the property configured so someone can use it,” Theo said. “It’s a large space.” One thing Theo is absolutely sure of is that there will not be apartments on the second floor. “This building has never had apartments on the second level,” Theo said. “Building apartments would create some difficult and expensive engineering and access issues.” The building, Theo said, has a lot to offer, and Theo wants to make it as attractive as possible to potential renters and business owners. The rehabilitation will begin this spring. In the meantime, Theo said he hopes to hear from interested parties. “Our intention is to get the building occupied,” he said. “We’d be glad to talk to anyone who potentially has use for the building.” The Wrights are even happy to help renters if help is what they need. “We can be flexible with people who have a need but aren’t necessarily in a position to pay market rent,” Theo said. Those interested in renting out a space can contact Lisa Wright at (406) 366-3218.

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