ASHLAND Passersby probably have noticed a commercial building perched on what look like stilts at the corner of Bath Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Those who took a second look may have seen something familiar in the octagonal cupola topping the structure.
That is because the building until recently resided a block away, across from the Midtown Mall shopping center. Its original occupant was Town Square Bank.
The owner, developer John Stewart, had the structure moved when he sold the lot it stood on. He plans to finish out the interior as office space and offer it either for sale or rent.
Stewart sold the original lot. The new owner plans to build a car wash there and would have demolished the existing building.
“He was going to tear it down so I made a deal to move it. It's a perfectly good building and there's no point in tearing it down,” Stewart said.
“People have called me and asked me why he would do that instead of putting up a new building, but I don't question John. John's quite a businessman and everything he develops improves the neighborhood for commerce, business and downtown,” Mayor Steve Gilmore said. “He's done some creative things with properties that are just standing there.”
Stewart plans on replacing the exterior brick facing that was removed for the move and configurating the interior as office space. The building will have 2,500 feet on two floors.
The interior of the building remain intact — windows, curtains, lights and counters. The building did not have a vault — which would have made moving it impractical, he said.
Stewart called the project “speculative development” but believes the traffic driven by the Midtown center and Melody Mountain stores make it a sound development.
He developed the new shopping plaza nearby on Central Avenue and is planning more commercial development in the area.
A number of properties nearby have been recently rezoned to allow commercial use, said city economic development specialist Katherine Utsinger.
“We would absolutely love to see something on that property instead of a vacant lot, something that will add to the tax base,” she said. “Martin Luther King Boulevard is the prime traffic corridor out into the county.”
Stewart was unable to estimate a completion target date because he is waiting for some of his subcontractors to be available.