New Venture

Marshalls buy, renovate former
JCTC building in Carrollton, Ky.

They plan to move their Artful Gifts, Etc. shop there

CARROLLTON, Ky. (November 2021) – After Jefferson Community Technical College relocated from downtown Carrollton, Ky., the building set vacant for the last five years. New life is slowly being breathed back into it, thanks to the recent sale of the building to Barry and Dinah Marshall.
Dinah Marshall has run Artful Gifts, Etc., located nearby at 430 Main St., for 10 years with her daughter, Jamie Jones. “The building we’re in now we purchased one year ago,” said Marshall. Previously, she had rented what used to be an old hotel for eight years. When the building came up for sale and she found out someone was interested in buying it, she felt she needed to look for another space.
“This was the only building my husband would go along with,” she said. The former JCTC building was built in 1898 and “has good bones.”
The Marshalls bought the former college building, located at 324 Main St., for $100,000, with $100 down at the signing and the remaining balance due within 60 days. Carrollton City Council had given Mayor Robb Adams the authority to negotiate the contract with the Marshalls earlier this year.
The sale included a parking lot across the street, and one condition of the sale was that nothing would be built on the lot. Marshall said she had no problem keeping it a parking lot because that meant no one could build in front of her building and this would ensure that the view of the river would not be obstructed.

Dinah Marshall

File photo

From left, Jamie Jones and her mother, Dinah Marshall, have big plans for the former JCTC building the family recently purchased from the city of Carrollton. The building is on Main Street and facing the Ohio River and just a few blocks from their current Artful Gifts, Etc. shop.

There are three floors to the building. The first floor will contain her business, which she plans to move after the first of the year. She said she hopes to have her first tenant, a dance studio, moved into the rear of the first floor by early November. Also moving in is a healthcare group.
Marshall, who is originally from Trimble County, plans to rent out office space on the second floor. On the top floor she plans to have a space to rent for weddings, retirement and birthday parties, etc.
“It will take a lot of time,” she said. “”We’re doing it one piece at a time.”
She was skeptical about pursuing the business venture during COVID-19, not knowing the outcome, but said, “My shop did well during that time. It gave me the confidence to go ahead.”
Her daughter said, “It’s so exciting. It’s a very big undertaking, but the possibilities are endless as to what we can do.”
Jones said this will allow them to expand Artful Gifts, Etc. and have a café and coffee bar, since the business already sells a lot of coffees. They have been talking to creameries and may include an ice cream parlor as well.
“You have to keep an open mind,” she said. With her mother’s business outgrowing its location every several years, “we were looking for something to accommodate it.” She thinks they have found the perfect space.
Some renovation work needs to be done on the historic building. Marshall plans to knock out a few walls to open it up, similar to when it housed a Lehmen’s Department store.
For the office space she’ll add some cubicles, restructure walls and doorways, upgrade the flooring and paint, and additional renovation work will depend upon inspection results. “We want to make it safe and comfortable, and some things need to be addressed.”
Because it is an historic building, Marshall is looking at some grants to help with funding. “I would like to get some of the original character back,” she said.
Marshall said she believes once businesses start moving in, economic development in the downtown area will pick up. There are currently quite a few vacant buildings in the area, she said.
Sam Burgess, Manager for the Carrollton Main Street Program, said this will “open up more possibilities for businesses, both in retail and the service sector.” Similar to other downtowns, “We have vacant and underutilized spaces. Currently, we have seven empty commercial ground-floor spaces and several underutilized spaces.”
Based on the last market analysis of the downtown area, “We have a list of the types of businesses that the respondents of the survey indicated they would most like to see downtown,” he said. “They include, but are not limited to restaurants, shoes, bakery, women’s casual clothing, grocery and deli. This is not a complete list, but these are the leading kinds that were identified.”
Jones said she “definitely sees it as a draw. A lot of people just need rental space.”
“There’s a need here for this and for office space,” said Marshall. “We have a lot of plans.”
She said in the beginning she was doubtful they would get the building. “I’m shocked City Council took our first offer. I believe they wanted something to happen. We’re involved in the area and have run a stable business.”
The city does require that the property be valued at $200,000 for tax purposes. The city had tried to market and sell the property before declaring it surplus property. Previous interested buyers had expressed interest in opening a restaurant, bar, meeting space and Airbnb rentals.
“We had heard it might be used for other things,” she said, but she said she believes the City Council wanted to retain certain types of business in the area. The Marshalls seemed to have the best plan for use of the space.
Marshall called this venture “a leap of faith. I feel really good about it, the way things have happened for us. This is a passion. It’s the right thing to do.”

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