New owners have high hopes for The Gallery

Published 7:46 pm Thursday, July 15, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Kevin and Cheryl Lewis, the new owners of The Gallery, are hoping to turn their new acquisition into a downtown destination.
The couple, who also own IHS Technologies and IHS Heating and Cooling, 111 E. Main St., closed on the building on May 5 and are currently searching for the "right" tenants to occupy the building.
They recognized the positive changes happening downtown and saw The Gallery, 127 E. Main St., as good investment for the future.
With the streetscape project, the combined sewer overflow project and Niles' recent selection as a Michigan Main Street community, the couple sees many things happening that show the city's commitment to turning a new corner.
He said there has been a negative stigma attached with The Gallery because of its past failures, but they hope to do away with those misconceptions by converting it into a successful business center.
They are considering dropping the name of The Gallery altogether and possibly just calling it "Niles Corner."
Cheryl considers the building to be a "gem" with its mall-like atmosphere, an open and inviting environment and three levels of space for a variety of different tenants.
The Gallery currently has two tenants, First Source Bank and Berkeley Real Estate, but with more than 15,000 square feet of remaining space, the building has enough room to house a wide variety of businesses and services.
Ideally, they envision the building as a retail center with one or two dining opportunities.
Cheryl said they are not just landlords because they are taking an active role in recruiting the right mix of businesses to try to ensure success.
Though, no commitments have been made, she said they are exploring many possible avenues.
So far, they have talked to large scale businesses like Hacienda, Borders and the South Bend Chocolate Factory. She said Hacienda looked at Niles years ago when the H.I.'s building was vacant and had no interest in locating here. She was able to convince the mexican restaurant that things were changing in Niles and that they should at least come back to take another look.
On the retail side, they have received strong interest from specialty shops that include a custom made gift basket service, a scrapbooking store and antique dealers.
They are also looking at businesses that will keep some evening hours, so the community will have an option of staying downtown after they go to a movie or a summer concert in the park.
They are exploring all possibilities and are open to suggestions from the community about what types of businesses they would like to see in the building. The owners can be contacted at their IHS Technologies office, 111 E. Main St, by calling (269)861-3078 or through email at