Below is the full article by Tristan Navera. (@TNaveraDBJ)
A boutique hotel and a new bar will join the namesake business in the iconic Price Stores building at the corner of Fourth and Jefferson streets.
The Ellway Group, which is developing the $100 million Fire Blocks District downtown, has bought the five-story building at 48 S. Jefferson St. for $550,000 through an entity from its longtime owner and tenant, Price Stores. Over the next 18 to 24 months, the developers plan to rework the building's upstairs floors for two new businesses, said Greg McCluskey, one of Ellway's principals and its chief operating officer.
"We feel this corner location across from where Levitt Pavilion is going in will be critical to the success of the (Fire Blocks)," McCluskey said.
Edd Wimsatt, owner of Price Stories, has signed a 12-month lease with options to extend and will be staying in the building, where his shop occupies the ground and part of the second floor. But he said he has been considering selling the real estate for the formalwear business for some time.
"It'll be business as usual for us, we'll be staying there," Wimsatt said. "We've been talking about this for a few years and it's a good deal for everyone."
In the meantime, Ellway Group plans to add a bar to part of the second floor and a "boutique hotel" to the upper three floors of the building. The number of rooms and overall investment in the building is still being determined.
Winfield Scott Gibson, another Fire Blocks principal, said in an interview with the DBJ that the bar would be part of a number of locally produced concepts the Fire Blocks developers are planning for the larger Fire Blocks district. Oklahoma-based hospitality and creative firm The Idea Collective has been helping the developers work up concepts for locally-focused stores, bars and shops in the Fire Blocks.
The developers are looking at removing the distinctive panels covering the building, in order to expose aesthetic architecture beneath it. Its redevelopment may rely more on private equity than the other parts of the redevelopment plan, as some of the other buildings have been able to benefit from several kinds of historic tax credits, Gibson said.
But having an established name like Price staying in the building fits in with the feel of a comprehensive urban living experience, Gibson said. The developers want the block to be walkable and encourage connections between the Levitt Pavilion, downtown core, Oregon District and other spaces to the north.
"Fireblocks LLC is happy to own 'The Price Stores' building, and happy that Edd Wimsatt and Price stores has signed a lease and will be staying in the building," McCluskey said.
The Fire Blocks is planned to be a $100 million revival of nearly 400,000 square feet in two blocks of downtown to nearly 200,000 square feet of residential and hotel space, 150,000 square feet of street level business and 100,000 square feet of new office space. The revival of the 10 acres looks to support 500 new jobs along with 120 new residential units with 200 new residents, as well as 36 new restaurant, retail and grocery businesses.
Price, the iconic local formalwear company that has been open since 1950, will remain at 52 S. Jefferson St. Space has been opened in the building since its ladies' gown department closed at the end of 2014. Upstairs currently houses stock space and dry-cleaning, though those could be moved elsewhere downtown, he said.
But Wimsatt, 67, said he's talked about selling the business as well, and left the longer-term future open for the business, which he added could benefit from new owners.
"I like the Fire Blocks guys and what they're doing," Wimsatt said.
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