Saturday, June 18, 2016

Main Street activity is picking up, with new businesses and new owners for key buildings

By Tiffany Broughton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway has become known for its delicious food and good shopping, but the commercial trend of Main Street has been a bit sideways, with four of 28 storefronts unoccupied. But a chiropractor's office and the Mezzo restaurant recently opened, Jordyn's cafe is coming soon, and vacant buildings have been purchased, so Main Street is on the rise.

There is rarely 100 percent occupancy on Main Street, said Kenny Smith, the owner of Kennydid Gallery, who first rented a building, then three years ago bought the one where his business is now. It's old, like most on the street divided by Kentucky's first railroad.

"When you buy an old building, you have a lot of work to do," Smith said. "Old buildings require a lot of maintenance and a lot of up keep. But it’s well worth it because when you buy something that’s 150 years old, it’s a lot more special that just buying something in a shopping center.”

MidwaypkgBroughton from Al Cross on Vimeo.

Several businesses rent. The co-owner of bloodstock agency McMahon and Hill, Michael McMahon, says he has never had a bad experience with his landlord. “They lease the upstairs and the next-door place that is going to be a coffee shop,” McMahon said. “They are easy to work with and they are making a big improvement to Midway. They really believe in downtown Midway so they want to see nice places doing business here.”

Some landlords believe in downtown so much that they own multiple buildings. Peggy Angel, the owner of Steppin' Out Boutique, Peggy Angel, says her landlord, Ness Almadari of Lexington, owns the building and she shares it with two other businesses. “This particular building, as I understand it, originally had the city tower or clock on top of it and lightning struck it several years ago so they are talking about possibly replacing it.”

Ness Almadari posed in front of his latest building March 7.
Almadari offers hope for one Main Street building desperately in need, Angel said: “He recently purchased the white building that had been condemned, almost, up the street and had gone vacant for many many years. He has purchased that and is going to totally redo that as well.”

Almadari bought the building at 116 East Main, one of the largest on the north side of the street. He didn't respond to a request for an interview, but Angel said, “He is all about the city and wanting to preserve the city and the historic preservation of the city. I know he has worked with other landlords doing various things.”

The Thoroughbred Theater building, which Angel had rented, also sold recently. Its future has not been revealed.

Smith said businesses come and go for various reasons, but there seems to be a core of stability that holds everything together. “Our visitors always comment on what a nice little town Midway is,” he said. “Overall, I think people maintain their buildings well and take pride in the ownership.”

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