205 South Bridge Street
Welcome to 205 South Bridge Street in Elkin, North Carolina. We’re actively seeking rental tenants for the building.
The building at 205 South Bridge is situated at the primary entrance to downtown Elkin—one of the few places to cross the Yadkin River between Yadkin and Surry Counties. There are approximately 10,000 cars per day that cross this bridge.
With two business partners, I bought the property in early 2015 to renovate and use as local Elkin offices for the remote work we’ve done through various national and international employers and contracts. We’ve done quite a bit to transform the inside and outside of the building and grounds, including a complete overhaul of the north suite into tech-friendly offices, as well as the addition of a large patio on the east side of the building, a new storage shed on the northeast corner of the building, a sidewalk and terraced garden on the south slope of the property, and several garden boxes and landscaped flower beds on the west side of the building near South Bridge Street, which is also US Highway 21 Business.
We’re finishing the renovations to the building by the end of 2017, with the goal to be rent-ready in mid-January 2018.
We’re seeking tenants to rent the south suite, the north suite, or potentially both suites together as soon as possible in 2018.
Let me give you a quick tour of the grounds! Here are several photos of the exterior of the building in its current condition as of October 3, 2017.
Basically, the building is a square—just over 1000 square feet—with the two approximately 450-500 sq. ft. suites sharing a bathroom that occupies part of the south half. Each suite is individually keyed with doors on the front (west) and back (east) sides of the building.
The north suite has two private offices and a reception area at the front door. Down the hallway next to the back office there is an area that is plumbed for an optional food/break area. Here’s a drawing of the open floor plan of the south suite, including a potential layout of shelving for a local market (or something similar).
You probably noticed in the photos above there is a basement below the north suite of the building. The original building was this half, and it is, essentially, a poured concrete bunker, above and below ground. So the (unfinished) basement is approximately 500 square feet.
There are two parking spots attached to the building on the north side, and several more parallel parking spots are accessible on the edge of the property along East Commerce Street.
As a native son of Elkin, with a perspective shaped by substantial travel and diverse living conditions across the nation and around the world, I’ve been thinking about what would work well in the buildings and grounds, based on its location and proximity to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the Yadkin River, US Hwy 21, and downtown Elkin, North Carolina—coupled with the amenities we’ve added to the property, especially the patio and terraced garden. I’ve come up with several ideas that I think would actually be fairly progressive and beneficial for increasing the sophistication of Elkin’s culture as it enters its post-industrial future.
Disclaimer: As I describe each of these potential tenant types below, please note that these are my own personal views, not those of my two business partners. 🙂
Nonprofit Organization. This building would be an excellent headquarters, regional chapter office, or satellite facility for any nonprofit organization—preferably an organization focused on environmental stewardship and/or social justice, especially in need of a couple offices and some conference or demo space. A few local examples include Yadkin Riverkeeper, Elkin Valley Trails, Watershed Now, and Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Perhaps you’ve just started or are looking to start a nonprofit? Start it here, the rent is reasonable. Talk to us!
Backpackers Service Center. Did I mention the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail goes right next to the property? As the MST gets more and more foot traffic, there are so many facilities that would be useful to weekenders and through-hikers if properly promoted over time. There is plenty of room on the property for a hostel (especially using temporary dorms), showers, backpacker resupply drop, Amazon Lockers, and a cafe serving deli items, coffee, beer, wine, booze, homemade fudge, trail mix, etc. Shoe and boot repair (and other gear repair options) would be essential. Set up shop to do them in-house! Here’s an inspirational example of a similar great spot on the John Muir Trail in California: Red’s Meadow.
Healthy Eating Options. Speaking of cafes… Why not open a vegan, vegetarian, or just plain healthy eating establishment? Promote delicious nutrition and wellness for people of all ages through local food connections with area farmers. Teach people how to use these and other recipes to eat just as healthily when they can’t make it to the restaurant. It would be wonderful to have such healthy eating options anywhere in the region, much less downtown Elkin, North Carolina! Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week! Dinner on the weekends, with seasonal menus and whatever other pop-up surprises might arise. Some examples include Early Girl Eatery, Green Sage Cafe, and Salsas. It’d be great if you’d be committed to composting and recycling as well. Zero waste if possible. 🙂
Side note: If you want to come park your food truck on the property, let us know and we’ll figure something out.
Expert Outfitter Services. This is an idea I’ve had come up in conversation a few times. Why not set up shop as an expert consultant where you can personally demo outdoor gear for clients? You’ve been in the wilderness for decades, and you’ve got the know-how that people need. Help them try things on for size, figure out how they work, and give them real advice they can use. Help them assemble gear lists for specific adventures or general readiness. You could provide subscription and commission-based plans. Help everyone gain more confidence as environmentally-friendly explorers of the great outdoors, with repairable gear intended to last a lifetime. Base your operations here and also provide global advice and demonstrations through broadband connectivity.
Co-op Grocery Store. There’s really no reason Elkin (and the Tri-County area) can’t support a food co-op. What’s a co-op? Here’s a great definition, and another bit of context from The Guardian:
One answer might be found in 18th century Britain, where a few forward-thinking dockworkers responded to the monopolistic business practices of mill owners by setting up the first industrial cooperatives. By clubbing together, members were able to bypass the middleman and bulk-buy goods at wholesale prices. We should take a leaf out of our forebears’ book and set up food co-ops as an answer to supermarket domination.
Feel free to insert “Wal-Mart”, “Food Lion”, or “Ingles” (the local corporate food options) for “supermarket” in the above Guardian quote.
A couple of relatively nearby food co-op examples include the French Broad Food Co-Op in Asheville, North Carolina and the Daily Groceries Co-op in Athens, Georgia. Now, you may think that based on these two examples, food co-ops can only be successful in hippie college towns. However, I’ve shopped at the La Montañita Co-op in Santa Fe, which also has locations in Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico.
Have you ever been to Gallup, New Mexico? Here’s what La Montañita Co-op has to say about their Gallup location:
In the small but quaint city of Gallup, this little gem of a store is frequently referred to as “one of the best parts about life in Gallup” by customers. Small but mighty, the Gallup Co-op brings local, organic food to an underserved, rural community.
I’ve been to Gallup a few times (another story for another time), and I can tell you, it’s basically a desert Southwest version of Elkin, populated with Native Americans and white people, with a few more bars than we have here, and green chiles on everything you can eat. I must admit it’s a bit prettier than Elkin, but that’s neither here nor there.
Essentially, if a food co-op can make it in Gallup, it can make it in Elkin. 🙂
A few more references: The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), National Co+op Grocers, a series of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about food co-ops, and another co-op addressing a few myths about food co-ops.
Here’s my favorite myth:
I have to be a hippie/liberal/vegetarian/etc. to shop at the co-op.
Same answer: everyone’s welcome. Liberal or conservative, hippie or yuppie, veggie lover or bacon lover—anyone can shop co-op (that means you!).
CSA Pickup Location. Perhaps as a supplement to the food co-op idea is the potential for this property to serve as a pickup location (attracting additional consumer traffic) for one or more local community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms:
Community-supported agriculture farms in the United States today share three common characteristics: an emphasis on community and/or local produce, share or subscriptions sold prior to season, and weekly deliveries to members/subscribers.
There is at least one farm already in the area, and perhaps more will be coming soon. Either way, Local Harvest seems to be a good spot to find out more information.
Secondhand Consignment Outdoor Gear Shop. There are many types of consignment shops, and based on the proximity to the Yadkin River access and Mountains-to-Sea trail, perhaps an outdoor gear consignment would do well here. Camping gear, paddle sports, hiking, clothing, etc. Two examples of such consignment stores (in western NC, no less!) are Second Gear in Asheville and Regear Outdoors in Boone.
Bookstore. Throughout my adult life, I’ve found safe harbor in bookstores almost everywhere I’ve lived, such as Malaprops, Firestorm, Changing Hands, the Henry Miller Library, and Pegasus Books, to name a few. I’ve conceptualized and experienced (in no particular order) bookstores to be places where intellectual conversations happen and people are awakened to progressive ideas. I don’t think Elkin has ever had anything quite like this, and I think it is high time someone came to town and started such a place. An interesting article from New Geography discusses how libraries and bookstores are “third places” and, as such, de facto community centers.
Bookstores are confronting the dual challenge of staying both vital and profitable. The most successful brick and mortar bookstores have evolved into third places. Once just exclusively retail outlets, they now are quasi-library/community gathering spots with onsite coffee shops and free Wi-Fi access. While bookstores have always attracted those who wish to browse and kill time, they now also draw others, laden with backpacks, to research, write, and study. Bookstore-based reading groups abound.
Who knows? If the right group of folks moved to town and set up shop, perhaps even something like Busboys and Poets could find its way to downtown Elkin…
Environmental Education Center. Why not put education about consumption and waste front and center in downtown Elkin, right where everyone can see it and smell it for exactly what it is! What better way to help everyone understand the nature of our relationship with industry and the natural environment in a central, accessible manner—especially in these post-industrial times, as we witness the disappearance of the industry that served as the reason for this town to exist in the first place. This education center could combine threads of organizations and frameworks such as Food Not Lawns, Transition Network, Strong Towns, and the Story of Stuff.
Maybe this education center could be a place to demonstrate composting techniques, both inside the home and at the community level. Perhaps there could even be a community compost center onsite in the acreage behind the building! One of the best things for humans to be doing right now is intentionally creating large quantities of fertile soil (since we’ve caused the destruction of so much topsoil…)!
Perhaps a permaculture design and demonstration center is a better fit, especially considering we’re working towards this framework already with the terraced garden and garden boxes. As a first step towards such a permaculture center, maybe start a garden box and garden consulting and design center—something a little more comprehensive than a gardening coach. Couple this with a native plant nursery and heirloom seed repository (and requisite native plant gardening education), and you’re well on the path to permaculture.
Music Store. Much like bookstores, I’ve found sanctuary in a number of record stores over the years—does anybody else remember Chuck’s store Music Swap back in the 1990s? There was Newbury Comics and CD Spins when I lived in Boston, and then Almost Blue in Asheville, where the owner first turned me on to the Black Keys when nobody knew who they were and thickfreakness had just been released, and she told me, “You better pay attention to these guys.” Boy, she was right. She helped me stay ahead of the curve. We need these helpers. When I moved to Tempe to work on my doctorate at Arizona State University, I discovered a record store called Hoodlums in the basement of the student union. My five-year love affair with Steve, Kristian, and the rest of the Hoodlums began then and there. Hoodlums has since closed its doors, but, luckily, there are still other independent record stores out there fighting the good fight.
Music stores are places to learn more about music, experiencing and appreciating its beauty amongst others who appreciate it just as much or more. Casual and expert listeners are allowed to better understand acoustics and production value, among other things associated with the artistry of performance and creative expression. I think the building would make a great record store, with an open floorplan in the south suite and space for offices and inventory in the north suite. There are excellent options for in-store performances (and recording!) both inside and outside the building. Imagine the stage you could set up in the backyard on the patio! Concerts next to the Yadkin River, surrounded by a town park!
Working Artist/Artisan Studio Space. This property would be an excellent location for providing “temporarily permanent” space for artists- or artisans-in-residence, a place for these creators to publicly display completed works as well as their ongoing creative processes. Perhaps these residences could vary in length between three, six, twelve, and eighteen months? Additional structured appreciation programs could be held throughout the year, as standalone events or in conjunction with other sophisticated cultural events happening downtown. What kinds of artists and artisans would you like to interact with in downtown Elkin?
As a current board member of the Foothills Arts Council, I am certain we could work out some cross-pollinating relationships with the FAC and other area arts organizations (and schools and libraries, for that matter). As a partial example, Smart Space Studios has an interesting flexible model for renting studio space. The Hive, The Crucible, and Art on 30th are three other examples. And, even though it’s a much larger space, the Torpedo Factory is another example.
Bottle Shop and Brew Supply. Much like a bookstore or record store or garden store, a bottle shop (and brew supply store) is a place to come and have a conversation to learn about, understand, appreciate, and celebrate the history and artistry of the craft of brewing. Chemistry, physics, biology, and the humanities, all in one glass. Bruisin’ Ales in Asheville is one example of a bottle shop, and Asheville Brewers Supply is, you guessed it, a brew supply shop! City Beverage in Winston-Salem is a sort of combination of the two, with the added bonus of a tasting room for sampling pints of local and hard to find beers. There’s also Beer Growlers, which is “just” a tasting room, but that might work well here in this building, especially with the patio view!
Disc Golf Course and Clubhouse. Why not work with the Town of Elkin Parks and Recreation Department (hey, the property is surrounded by Crater Park!) to build a municipal disc golf course interwoven with downtown Elkin, the trails system, and the Elkin Municipal Park and Rec Center (which is within easy walking distance of the property)? According to the Disc Golf Association, there are many benefits to municipalities and players from building a disc golf course, especially as a low-cost, low maintenance, environmentally friendly community activity.
It may seem strange to think you can build a disc golf course that intermingles with town buildings and roads. However, having been a professor at CSUMB out in Monterey, California, I’ve seen the success of such an operation firsthand.
Granted, this course is intermingled with a university campus that used to be a military base, but it’s buildings and roads, nonetheless.
The building and grounds of 205 South Bridge Street could serve as the “clubhouse” for the disc golf course—some combination of cafe, bookstore, and lounge with beer and ready-made sandwiches. It’d be a great place to sell new and used disc golf gear. And perhaps even host a tournament or two?
Folk High School. The building and grounds are probably not large enough to serve as the final home of a full-fledged folk high school, but it would be a great place to incubate such an institution during its inception and initial growth. This location is especially relevant as it is within a stone’s throw of the Yadkin Valley Community School, and there is ample opportunity for expansion into the now empty campus of the behemoth Chatham Manufacturing—also within walking distance of the building and grounds.
Two examples of folk high schools exist are within a day’s drive of Elkin: John C. Campbell Folk School and the Highlander Research and Education Center (formerly the Highlander Folk School). Another similar concept worth considering is something along the lines of Black Mountain College—why not have a Yadkin Valley College right here in Elkin, North Carolina?
Pirate Radio Station and Podcasting Studio. Why not start a pirate radio station? There is definitely a cultural need for more alternative radio options in the area. Don’t worry, apparently this can be done entirely legally, at least as of 2004, anyway. Or, just start an internet radio station—there are many platforms and options for doing so, including RadioKing. One excellent example of an internet-only radio station is SomaFM. I discovered those folks when I lived in California. I still listen and donate when I can.
Essentially, the property could serve as recording studios and offices for the radio station, allowing for in-studio shows and whatever else you could think of that’s worth producing in facilities such as the WhisperRoom. Plenty of these modules could fit within the north and south suites, in a variety of configurations.
Local Storefront for any Etsy (online) business. Even if you don’t already have an Etsy business, it’s not that difficult to get one up and running, assuming you’ve got something that fits their model of online selling. Wells of Health and Yard n Barn look like to reasonably good examples. I’ve personally used Wells of Health on several occasions, by the way.
Why not take advantage of housing your Etsy business in a high-traffic area with relatively low rental overhead? Take a hybrid approach to online selling that allows people to come in and experience your products first hand—and write better reviews for those online-only customers? As an alternative to Etys, you could just start a free WooCommerce store and manage your inventory this way.
Get Creative! Why not create some reasonable combination of any of these ideas above (say, bookstore and garden center), based on judicious design and flexibility of operations—feedback policies for feedback systems, anyone? How about an animation studio, plain old office space (ho, hum!), a coworking space, a pilates studio, or therapy center? Maybe a maker space or 3D printing shop, where you can make parts on demand for any domain of hobbyist or hard to find repair needs: tools, appliances, whatever—and sell them all in-store and online.
We’re open to your ideas!
Specific Rental Details
With a signed lease of at least twelve months, we’ll consider quite reasonable monthly rental rates for each of the two suites, with a discount for renting out the entire building (not including utilities, internet, etc.):
South Suite: $400 per month
North Suite: $400 per month
Entire Building: $700 per month
For an additional small monthly fee, we’re willing to negotiate a tenant’s exclusive right for reservation and first use of the patio—or even an exclusive right for adding “temporarily permanent” structures to the patio—such as a platform stage or cafe furniture.
In other words, we’re willing to work with you to get your business into downtown Elkin. Let’s talk about the details!
Invest In The Future
Let’s think beyond the rental.
Do you live somewhere that is getting too crowded, too expensive, or just too…something? Want to move here and invest in a “blank slate” small town for a fraction of your current cost of living?
Are you just looking to start or invest in a business in the area and need a space to incubate it?
We want to help you. Let’s make a deal.
Want to buy the building?
For the right price of $70,000, we’d actually sell the place today. Well, actually we’d prefer to wait until January 2018, when we’re done with renovations. But we’ll start the process ASAP.
Any takers? Let me know.
Rental or Purchase: Get In Touch
Whether you want to rent, buy, or invest, let me know. You can contact me through any of the following channels:
Comment on this blog post (I’ll be notified directly).
Apologies, but I’m hesitant to share my personal email and phone contact information more than I have to. I hope you understand. If you can find it anyway (or already have it), feel free to contact me via phone/text or email.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.