Open House Held at Vacant Industrial Building

StelremaAn open house was held at the former Stelrema building Thursday to try to find a new business for the property.

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation is working with real estate broker Commercial Advantage to find a new owner for the vacant industrial building north of Knox.

The foundation’s executive director Charlie Weaver says the open house brought in a few people, but it’s part of a larger marketing strategy.

“You never expect to have a lot of bodies because you’re trying to trigger people’s memory so that they think about the building down the road,” says Weaver. “They may, next week, find that they have a client that needs a building, and they’ll think about this. But we’ve had steady traffic all morning long. I’ve been quite pleased and surprised. We’ve had many more than I expected to see. Probably a couple of dozen or more people have come through, and I was going to be happy if we had three.”

He says the open house had a variety of visitors.

“We’ve had brokers,” says Weaver. “We’ve had plant managers and owners come through, people that are looking to expand, people that are looking to get new product to sell. We’ve had various suppliers come in too, so about everybody. We’ve had some of our state officials come through, in case any questions come up.”

Commercial Advantage president Lori Tubbs says the building can be used for many types of businesses.

“They’re really looking for companies that have 15 or more employees, so it’s all employee- driven, and you can put a lot of employees in a facility like this with a lot of office space,” says Tubbs. “It probably has more office space than, generally, warehouses need in 2015, but people are going to come here because there’s docks all along that wall – there are not a lot of buildings with as many docks – and the high ceilings.”

She says the building’s current owner has restored the building to an almost-new condition.

“If you could see this in here before, as compared to now, he really took out a lot,” says Tubbs. “It was pretty beat up and dark. He put it new lights, took out a lot of the electrical handing webs, and just really cleaned up. There’s three sections that can be divided up to three companies logically, or you can just put one user in here.”

They say they don’t expect much interest from potential buyers until the new year. Weaver says they plan to have another marketing push in the spring, if there isn’t any activity before then.