A once dilapidated commercial center that houses a well-known Greenwood restaurant is coming back to life.
The Oaken Barrel Brewing Co. has been a well-known staple at the Vista Village Shopping Center on Main Street near Emerson Avenue for years. But 10 years ago, the comedy club next door closed, and through the years, the shopping center started to look run-down, with a pothole-riddled parking lot and vacant storefronts.
Now, the new owners are local and have infused $3.1 million, including $500,000 in incentives from Greenwood city coffers, into the commercial center.
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Two restaurants, a church, hair salon and insurance agency call it home. By the end of the month, the remaining vacancies will likely be filled.
Mainstay Oaken Barrel remains and is adding a roofed patio to the front of the restaurant this summer so that diners can grab a drink and wait for a table. Restaurant and brewery owner Kwang Casey and local developers Billy and Todd Bemis bought the property from an out-of-state owner in 2016.
Casey had considered moving his restaurant and brewing company as the property deteriorated, but decided to buy the strip mall instead.
“Before I owned this strip center it was an eyesore,” Casey said. “It got to a point where I nearly left the strip center. With the improvements already I’m so proud of what I’ve done so far and can’t wait to finish the rest of it.”
The parking lot has been paved, and new sidewalks and islands with decorative plants have been installed. This summer, the building will get new siding, windows and roofing. A temporary sign shows the new name for the center — Airport Parkway Plaza.
After purchasing the property for $1.4 million, the owners reached an agreement with the city for assistance in making renovations. The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission agreed to contribute $500,000 to the project, after the owners first spent $1.2 million on improvements themselves.
With the improvements about halfway done, the building is set to fill its remaining two vacancies with two real estates companies, bringing the total number of tenants in the 28,000-square-foot building to seven, Casey said.
The building has up to 12 storefronts but some of the tenants, such as City Life Church, take up multiple spaces, he said.
Casey had never owned a commercial property before and said he’s had to learn how to negotiate and work with contractors and handle the occasional surprise, such as when a vehicle crashed into the building earlier this week.
What Casey and Bemis Group have done so far to the shopping center is an example of the importance of having local owners who take pride in their properties, said Brent Tilson, president of the city redevelopment commission.
Prior to the new owners purchasing the building in 2016, the site had fallen into a state of disrepair, with an out-of-state owner who hadn’t been making the necessary investments to keep the property near the eastern entrance to downtown Greenwood looking nice, Tilson said.
A strip mall in Greenwood along Main Street is undergoing more than $1 million in renovations. Here’s some details about the site:
Name: Airport Parkway Plaza
Location: 50 Airport Parkway
Size: 28,000 square feet
Current tenants: City Life Church, Five Zero Boutique, Oaken Barrel, Edward Jones, Brewhouse