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The former lumber yard at 108 Cliff St. is for sale at $1.27 million. The 11,000-square-foot property is currently owned by Massies Creek Ventures, a local LLC that had plans to transform the space into a public market and eatery. The sale, which is being brokered by commercial real estate agent and villager Allison Moody, shown above, includes not just the 1940s-era building, but architectural plans for a prospective buyer to develop the market eatery vision. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Lumber yard, market concept for sale

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The former lumber yard at 108 Cliff St. is back on the market.

Built in 1940 and spread across 11,000 square feet, the lumber yard is being sold for $1.27 million by Massies Creek Ventures, a local LLC that had visions of transforming the site into a public market and eatery since the group purchased it in 2021. 

Though those plans never came to fruition, Massies Creek CEO Brian Drew told the News this week that he hopes a buyer will carry on the vision — creating a space for villagers and visitors alike to shop, dine and work.

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“We’re open to anything,” Drew said. “But we would love for it to become the market and eatery we imagined. I think we’re patient enough to wait for the right buyer.”

Taking inspiration from such places as North Market in Columbus and 2nd Street Market in Dayton, where independent merchants and makers lease spaces to sell their goods, Drew and his former business partner Patrick Lake purchased the lumber yard in 2021 for $650,000.

In line with the Village’s 2020 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Drew and Lake sought to strengthen the business corridor along the bike path toward the Millworks industrial park, and, as previously reported in the News, to build a market that could work as a “relief valve” for downtown pedestrian traffic on busy weekends.

“It’s a flagship location,” Drew said. “It’s a perfect opportunity to provide more quality food service and more for locals and tourists — and free Wi-Fi and public bathrooms — all along the bike path.”

According to Drew, those plans folded due to internal conflicts within the LLC, along with some financial and legal hurdles associated with those conflicts.

When Massies Creek was formed in 2020 for the sole purpose of buying the market in 2021, Lake was president and Drew was vice president. Lake resigned from his position in January 2023 — though he still maintains an equity stake in the project. Since assuming the role of president, Drew appointed local business owners and entrepreneurs David Butcher and Dino Pallotta as managers in February 2023.

A rendering of the proposed market eatery concept that Massies Creek Ventures sought to install in the lumber yard building. (2022 rendering by Crome Architecture)

In those three years under Massies Creek ownership, the lumber yard underwent a considerable transformation from the cluttered storage facility it had been when they bought it. The group cleared and renovated parts of the building and site, conducted feasibility studies, removed asbestos siding and worked with Crome Architecture to render future building plans.

The sale, which is being brokered by commercial realtor and village resident Allison Moody, will include not just the physical real estate, but also those architectural plans, as well as several site-specific permits and a license to use the Village-owned strip of land between the building and the bike path for additional patio space.

Moody, who is also listing several other large properties around Yellow Springs and owns the adjacent Millworks property, told the News that she has “too many other projects going on” to consider buying the lumber yard. Still, she hopes to broker a sale to a buyer intent on building a “cohesive” partnership between an eventual market and the Millworks businesses.

A rendering of the Lumber Co. Market & Eatery shows an entrance facing Cliff Street and an outdoor patio along the bike path. The Village is allowing the company the use of its right-of-way along the bike path for additional seating and bike racks. (Rendering by Max Crome Architecture)

“These properties don’t need to be under the same ownership to benefit each other,” Moody said.

Like Drew, Moody said she believes the “best and highest use” for the Cliff Street property is for a mixed retail space wherein small businesses could benefit one another.

“A market would not only give Yellow Springs some more places to eat, but it’d be an opportunity for small businesses — like those who can’t quite yet get a brick and mortar, or food trucks who are looking for something more substantial — to take the next step,” Moody said. “There’s a lot of benefit in small businesses being so close together, with customers easily going from one vendor to another.”

Moody admitted, though, that a buyer wouldn’t be required to pursue the market and eatery concept. She said that, barring some restricted uses such as drive-thru restaurants and automotive repair shops, a buyer could theoretically raze the building and build another storage site.

“But we need something that’ll benefit Yellow Springs as a whole,” she said.

Of the building’s condition, Moody said it’s in good shape. According to her, the 84-year-old foundation remains solid, and the roof needs little, if any work.

Drew said it was these solid industrial bones that attracted him and Lake to the property in the first place.

“The craftsmanship is just beautiful,” he said. “It’s reflective of a really neat period in our village’s history. There’s so much old growth pine holding it up — and that’s just not around anymore.”

When it was originally built, the 108 Cliff Street building was home to Erb Lumber, later PK Lumber and the Yellow Springs Lumber Company. After the late Bob Baldwin bought it in 2003, he told the News he was considering creating a business incubator there, but it wound up being used mostly for storage. For some years until recently, a personal gym and training facility, Posterior Chain, also operated there.

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