New owner has high hopes for Niles building

Published 9:34 am Saturday, December 4, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Cheryl Lewis would like to see the "Niles Corner" building become a destination in downtown Niles where visitors can go to find a variety of shopping in one location.
In May, Lewis and her husband, Kevin, bought the building, formerly known as "The Gallery," located at 127 E. Main St. with the intent to establish it as a premier shopping destination in downtown Niles.
While the Niles Corner building is still pretty empty, visitors to downtown Niles will get a look of things to come to the building during a Holiday Merchants Fair from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today.
The event will also serve as a grand opening celebration for the newest business to take residence in the building.
Finders Keepers Antique Mall moved to the lower level of the building in early November from its previous location next door at 214 N. Second St.
Currently, Niles Corner is home to a 1st Source Bank branch and trust office, Berkeley Realty, the Four Flags Players theater group, and Finders Keepers Antique Mall.
In January, Lewis hopes to move the businesses she owns with her husband, IHS Technologies and IHS Heating and Cooling, from their current location, 115 E. Main St., to a space in Niles Corner.
A new business which will be featured at the Holiday Merchants Fair is Purple Rose Masterpieces, which will be opening in Niles Corner in early January.
The business, operated by Julia and Aubreylee Hoskins of Niles, will specialize in hand-decorated gift baskets, custom jewelry and hand-decorated scarves.
As part of the fair, the Four Flags Players will be performing reader's theater during the evening in coordination with the Niles Academy of Performing Arts, which just moved in next door in the space where Finders Keepers used to be.
The Niles Service League will be selling Christmas ornaments at a booth during the fair to raise money for various service projects they do during the year.
Merchants who are considering moving into the Niles Corner building will also be in attendance at the merchants fair, Lewis said.
Barb Kampa of Niles is looking to open a scrap-booking business in the building. Lewis said there has been an interest in a scrap-booking shop for some time.
Representatives from the Home and Garden Party and Mary-Kay will also be in attendance at the open house.
Lewis intended to have the open house be a way for retailers to not only get the word out about their products, but to also get a feel for whether they would like to do business in the building.
Lewis said she hopes to get a variety of restaurant businesses in the building as well.
Lewis said she and her husband have been approached by a business that would like to set up an ice cream shop on the ground floor which would also serve breakfast and lunch.
The upper level, which is uninhabited save for the space the Four Flags Players are renting, is being reserved for mixed retail and a restaurant, Lewis said.
While she would like to see more retailers move into the building, Lewis said maintaining the building's historical feel is also important.
After overcoming some obstacles first encountered when the building was acquired, like when the building was flooded on June 10 and then repairing the damage from the flooding, Lewis said the building is ready for a renewal.
The recent completion of the downtown streetscape project has also filled Lewis with a lot of optimism concerning the future of the building.
The building holds a lot of potential for both merchants and the City of Niles, Lewis said.