After five years of sitting dormant, the stately old Masonic building in downtown Waynesville is ready to open its doors to the public again.
A well-appointed restaurant is housed on the first floor. Office suites and meeting rooms line the second floor. An enormous grand ballroom graces the third floor.
The only thing missing? A restaurateur to lease the kitchen and professionals to rent the offices.
“The nice feature about this property is it is in the heart of downtown. You can pop out and get coffee, take a client out to lunch, if you have to pick up a birthday present you’ve got shops,” said Stoner Giltz with Tessier Associates, who’s serving as the property manager.
The second floor has half a dozen offices of varying sizes, with a shared conference room and meeting room. While it isn’t not hard to find office space to lease in Haywood County, the historic vibe of the building — down to brass mail slots in each office door — sets it apart along with the location.
“There are not a lot of spaces like this,” Giltz said.
The plans for the building have a ring of deja vu to them. Ten years ago, local entrepreneurs had the exact same vision for the under-utilized building. They transformed it into a first-floor restaurant, second-floor office and meeting space, and third-floor event venue — carrying out a whole-building renovation in the process.
Called The Gateway Club, it came online just as the recession hit in 2008. As the down-turn wore on, the owners eventually put it up for sale, losing the costly investment they’d made renovating the building. An investor bought and held the building until this year.
It was purchased for $885,000 by a family partnership with long ties in the local tourism industry.
The Shah family, which owns the Best Western Smoky Mountain Inn and the new Hampton Inn under construction, saw potential in the third-floor ballroom. It would be a perfect compliment to their hotels as off-site event space for guests hosting weddings or conferences.
The first-floor restaurant and second-floor offices were part of the package, however.
The restaurant is a turn-key space. The kitchen equipment alone saves $100,000 in what would otherwise be someone’s start-up cost.
“It has a full kitchen all set up and ready to go. It is an almost turnkey operation,” Giltz said.
Despite sitting vacant for the past few years, only minor renovations were needed to ready the building for new occupants, given the work done to the building under the prior Gateway Club owners.