New owners are taking over a substantial downtown Roanoke building with hopes of breathing new life into it.
The roughly 16,000-square-foot property, located at 211 First St., was recently sold to a new partnership of local entrepreneurs.
Co-owner Chris Brown said plans for the building are still under discussion, but the group hopes to attract a new tenant to its first-floor storefront.
That space was last occupied by a florist shop but has been vacant for years.
“We’d like to bring in something retail there, something that downtown needs,” said Brown, who’s also a co-owner of Benny Marconi’s.
The building, which sits across the street from Fortunato and Stellina, is ripe with potential, Brown said. Built more than a century ago, it offers striking historic architectural features, including a seal from its early days as a Masonic Hall.
“It’s very exciting to be part of a landmark like this downtown,” he said.
The building also houses Corinthian Ballroom, which runs an upscale event and wedding venue on the top two floors.
The ballroom will remain a tenant, Brown said, and the new landlords plan to help promote it.
The sale of the building closed in late June for just over $1 million, according to city records. Brown said other partners in the project include Zach Toth, co-owner of Benny’s, and Roger Neel and Neal Keesee, who have collaborated in downtown developments like Frankie Rowland’s and Billy’s.
The group is already marketing the vacant space in the First Street building for rent. Space is available on the first two floors.
Firmer plans will take shape as the tenant search unfolds, Brown said.