The City of Canton announces that its Downtown Development Authority, DDA, has agreed to and signed a contract for the sale of the Historic Jones Building to developers Penn Hodge and Grant Schmeelk for $2.2M. Hodge and Schmeelk are business partners in an Atlanta-based commercial real estate development and brokerage firm concentrating in leasing, management, joint ventures, and sales. The firm is responsible for the redevelopment of what is now known as The Mill on Etowah [Mill District] in Downtown Canton.
“Tasked with developing downtown for the public good, this DDA, together with all of Team Canton including our Mayor and City Council, has worked tirelessly to bring the best buyer in for our beloved Jones Building,” said Brooke Schmidt, City of Canton Councilor, Economic Development Chair, and DDA Board Member. “We are confident that Penn, Grant, and their collaborators will create an exciting development that maintains our healthy and vibrant downtown."
“The Downtown Development Authority is excited to assist our City in moving this property back into the hands of a private owner,” said Cindy Brooks, DDA President and Vice President - Retail Market Manager, Synovus. “The Jones Building will once again be the centerpiece of commerce and entrepreneurship in Canton.”
“The development of the Jones Building is the next opportunity to showcase the City of Canton,” said Hodge. “The private/public partnership of this historical landmark will define the future of Downtown. We see the Jones Building project as the next adaptive reuse challenge, which will continue our theme of ‘Honoring History’ for the City.”
Proposed Redevelopment of the Jones Building
Hodge and Schmeelk added that their intent is the proposed partnership will align the aspirations of the City with the skills of their development team to create a destination landmark for office, retail, and restaurants in the historic Downtown area, and help unite the two districts [Downtown and The Mill on Etowah] in the City of Canton. The development team proposes to invest into the existing building and take the lead on the all the renovations, marketing, and leasing.
Hodge and Schmeelk plan to enlist local design duo Kandace and Rob Walker-Bunda of Bunker Design to bring thoughtful vision of the re-design of this historic building to life.
“We want this project to show and celebrate all the layers that have accumulated over time to give this great building it’s character and personality,” said K. Walker-Bunda. “Staying true to the historic nature of the building is crucial to the vision of showing the time span this building have lived through.”
The exterior architectural and historic character of the Jones Building will remain with modifications to bring the building into current code compliance while also working with the City of Canton to ensure that any new exterior work is in line with the City’s vision and commitment to historic preservation standards. New interior work will celebrate open site lines and allow for light to pass through the interior spaces naturally, with new all-glass storefront and modern touches to show users and visitors the journey through time that this building has endured and will honor.
Proposed uses for the redeveloped building will take a mixed use – adaptive reuse – and commercial strength approach, and will potentially include retail, restaurants, and office space.
History of the Jones Building
Very few commercial buildings in Cherokee County can boast the age of the historic Jones Building in Downtown Canton. The massive building that would stand as a city block in many communities anchors the eastern side of Cannon Park. The building has served as the focal point of the central business district since 1879, when it originally opened as the Jones Mercantile. Serving the residents of Cherokee County with everything from hardware to haberdasheries, food to furniture, and children's toys to caskets, the store was a one-stop shop and the original Cherokee County department retailer. The Jones Mercantile accepted mill currency and store credit, being on the cutting edge of retailing.
It originally stood as only half the building mass that is currently visible until a two-story addition was built adjacent to the first structure on the east side along Main Street. By 1921, the expansion had a third story added on that new space and the building's storefront along Main Street was seamlessly designed. The building would undergo a remodel in the 1950s. Finally, in 1973, as was the retail trend, an aluminum and stucco facade was installed covering up the facility.
Purchased by Cherokee County in the late 1980s for additional administrative office space, the building was subdivided from large open floor space to office suites for varied County operations. In January of 2017, the City of Canton took ownership of the facility from Cherokee County as part of an asset swap through the consolidation of fire services.
City Council immediately hired Lord Aeck Sargent's (LAS) Atlanta Office and the duo of Jack Pyburn and Esther Davis to assist in putting together plans for the renovation of the exterior of the facility. Throughout early 2017, LAS had the building scanned, employed environmental engineers to scan and test building materials, examined contributing elements of the historic building (woodwork, windows, masonry, structure and mechanicals), all to create architectural designs for bidding for construction.
In May 2017, City leaders approved the use of a Construction Manager at Risk platform for the work at the facility. The CM at Risk will oversee the project, subcontracting labor to varying groups through an open book system while bidding out all work. This philosophy assists the City with establishing a not-to-exceed budget for the project. The project was two phased: a building envelope renovation and an operational renovation.
The first phase includes replacement of the roof structure and renovation of the facade of the facility. This phase included repair and replacement of masonry, windows, and the addition of historically accurate commercial storefront designs. Additionally, during this first phase, the CM at Risk was responsible for the selective demolition of the interior non-attributing elements. During this process, interior walls were removed as well as some of the non-original floor systems used to subdivide the building.
In October 2017, Garbutt Construction was hired as the CM at Risk and selective interior demolition, the new roofing system and exterior renovation work began. Construction and renovation lasted for approximately two years.