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HUNTINGTON — Huntington developer Phil Nelson said he considers the corner of 4th Avenue and 8th Street in downtown Huntington as the landmark entrance to the city.

“This location has the federal, state and county offices here, along with the Mountain Health Arena, make it the main artery to downtown I think, from the South Side especially,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the location was the key factor in the decision for him and his partners with BMN Capital to purchase two buildings on the corner, just across the street from the Cabell County Courthouse.

The building directly on the corner with entrances on 4th Avenue was purchased for $435,000, according to documents at the courthouse.

“It’s a four-story building with approximately 7,000 square feet on each floor for a total of about 28,000 square feet,” Nelson explained. “The potential is here. Each floor has wide-open spaces, big windows and unique possibilities for so many different types of tenants.”

Nelson said the top three floors already have three committed tenants, but he says he is not able to name them at this time. He said they are traditional office space tenants.

“We will be making those announcements soon,” Nelson said. “We also have strong interest in the first floor as well.”

Nelson is hoping for a retail tenant for the street-level floor.

“We think that’s important to get people shopping and walking around with the other retail business here,” he said.

One of Nelson’s partners, Chad Barry, said he has owned and rented apartments in Huntington, but this is his first time being involved in a commercial development.

“I am excited to be involved with Phil,” Barry said. “He brings a lot of experience with these types of developments. I also like that we are going to restore it to its original look.”

Due to the building’s location and its historical beauty, it qualifies to historic tax credits to help with the renovations.

“We want to restore back as closely to its original look as we can and are working with the West Virginia Historic Preservation Office and the Department of the Interior on the federal level,” Nelson said. “We have already hired a consultant to guide us through that process.”

The first floor of the building has been home to many businesses, including the Day Report Center more recently and Nick’s News and National Record Mart in the past, according to Nelson.

Nelson estimates the building restoration and renovations to cost about $3 million.

“We have about six to eight months more work to do to complete the project,” he said.

BMN Capital also bought the building behind it at 412 8th St. but sold it to GES Holdings.

That company is owned by Gail Moore, an integrative medicine nurse practitioner, Eva Ball, a lifestyle optimizer and bodywork therapy specialist and Dr. Stefanie Painter, a medical researcher, published writer and registered dietitian.

They have renamed the location the Artemis Building.

“After the Greek goddess of the moon and of the hunt,” Ball said.

Ball says the plan for the building is a structural renovation and business expansion for The Shala, a company she created and expanded with Moore and Painter.

“The Shala is a root cause medicine, bio-hacking wellness center focused on alternative health, lifestyle optimization, infrared technology, IV drip nutritional therapy, functional medicine and bio-hacking in its first phase expansion,” Ball explained. “The goal is to assist the community in making changes to optimize health through education, testing, functional medicine and using technology such as infrared saunas and nutritional support via IV drip therapies to ‘hack’ the body’s biology and assist in healing, hence the term, bio-hacker. This is the first phase of The Shala expansion.”

Renovations are set to begin in this fall and conclude in late winter or spring 2022, according to Ball.

The building is roughly 10,000 square feet. The Shala will use the first floor.

“The second floor is open to expansion plans, either condos or business rental space,” Ball said. “The upper floor plans have not been finalized.”

The renovation cost is close to $700,000, Ball added.

“The Shala team hopes to bring life optimization and healing to the Huntington community and surrounding communities,” she said.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams says he is thrilled to see the energy and revitalization that has occurred on 3rd Avenue spill over onto 4th Avenue.

“It’s a living, breathing example that development is contagious,” Williams said. “It’s also reassuring knowing that the developers involved in these projects have been longtime members of this community. They are invested in Huntington in more ways than one and will not let these projects fail. Their commitment gives me even more motivation to ensure that the City of Huntington does everything in its power to protect their investments and the vibrancy that we have in the downtown.”

Fred Pace is the business reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow him at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

Fred has been in the newspaper industry for 30+ years. He continues to be excited to bring readers news that only comes thru local journalism. “Being able to share the passion felt by entrepreneurs in our community with readers is exciting,” he said.

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