Salvation Army sells building
Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 22, 2014
The new owners of the former Salvation Army Thrift Store building at the corner of West Washington and South Saratoga streets are excited about the chance to help complete the redevelopment of the troubled 100 block of that road.
“The minute we decided to let (the building) loose, they were ready to go,” Suffolk Salvation Army Capt. Jim Shiels said of the buyers on Monday. “That was good for us. We were concerned about having the building sit vacant and what that meant for economic development.”
Shiels announced to his local board of advisers on Monday that the building had sold for “just under $200,000.”
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The buyer is a limited liability corporation comprising members of the family that owns Suffolk’s Cross Realty, according to owner and managing broker Harry Lee Cross III, who said Cross Management also will be in charge of managing the building.
He said there is a sense of nostalgia in the purchase.
“I remember it as People’s Drug Store, and I remember the counter they had for lunch,” he said, explaining that when he was younger and visited his father’s office located on Saratoga Street, he would walk to People’s for lunch.
“I remember a very vibrant downtown,” Cross said. “It was a different era, and that era comes back as you have more rooftops for people who need or want those kind of things.”
The continuing redevelopment along West Washington Street was one of the biggest motivating factors for the Salvation Army’s decision to part with the 6,000-square-foot building, according to Shiels.
The changing character of the area where the store had been located had affected the customer base, and it had made the store more expensive to operate.
“We were not able to use it as a store at this point,” Shiels said. “It’s a positive. We got a good price. And we’ve been putting so much effort into the new community center (on Bank Street) that this has been a great opportunity.”
The Salvation Army board is considering its options regarding how and where to locate a replacement store.
“We need to be in an area we can serve and afford to operate,” he said.
Cross said he expects the former thrift store to be used for some combination of office and retail space that would dovetail with the type of tenants expected to occupy the retail, office and residential spaces under renovation adjacent to the former thrift store and northward along that block.
“We look at it more as a long-term investment, more than a short term one,” he said, noting that building improvements are planned. “And once the other buildings on West Washington are completed, it will make it more attractive.”