The Canton Downtown Development Authority has agreed to and signed a contract to sell the historic Jones Building to developers Penn Hodge and Grant Schmeelk for $2.2 million, the city announced recently.
Hodge and Schmeelk are business partners the Atlanta-based commercial development firm responsible for the Mill on Etowah in downtown Canton.
“Tasked with developing downtown for the public good, this DDA, together with all of Team Canton including our Mayor and City Council, has worked tirelessly to bring the best buyer in for our beloved Jones Building,” said Councilor Brooke Schmidt, the city’s economic development chair, and a DDA board member. “We are confident that Penn, Grant, and their collaborators will create an exciting development that maintains our healthy and vibrant downtown.”
Proposed uses for the redeveloped building will take a mixed use — adaptive reuse — and commercial strength approach, and will potentially include retail, restaurants, and office space.
“The Downtown Development Authority is excited to assist our City in moving this property back into the hands of a private owner,” said Canton DDA President Cindy Brooks. “The Jones Building will once again be the centerpiece of commerce and entrepreneurship in Canton.”
“The development of the Jones Building is the next opportunity to showcase the City of Canton,” said Hodge. “The private/public partnership of this historical landmark will define the future of Downtown. We see the Jones Building project as the next adaptive reuse challenge, which will continue our theme of ‘Honoring History’ for the City.”
According to Hodge and Schmeelk, their intent is the proposed partnership will align the aspirations of the City with the skills of their development team to create a destination landmark for office, retail, and restaurants in the historic downtown area. The developers also hope to help unite the downtown area and the Mill on Etowah. The development team proposes to invest into the existing building and take the lead on the all the renovations, marketing, and leasing.
The developers plan to enlist local design duo Kandace and Rob Walker-Bunda of Bunker Design to bring thoughtful vision of the re-design of this historic building to life.
“We want this project to show and celebrate all the layers that have accumulated over time to give this great building its character and personality,” said Kandace Walker-Bunda. “Staying true to the historic nature of the building is crucial to the vision of showing the lifespan this building has lived through.”
The plan is for Hodge and Schmeelk to keep the building’s exterior architectural and historic character, bring the building up to code and ensure any new outside work is in line with the city’s vision and historic preservation standards.
New interior work will celebrate open site lines, according to the developer, and have modern touches. The all-glass storefront will allow for natural light.
The Jones Building, on the eastern side of Cannon Park, originally opened in 1879 as the Jones Mercantile. It serves as a focal point of Canton’s central business district.
It originally stood as only half the building mass that is currently visible until a two-story addition was built adjacent to the first structure on the east side along Main Street. By 1921, the expansion had a third story added on that new space and the building’s storefront along Main Street was seamlessly designed. The building was remodeled in the 1950s and in 1973, as was the retail trend, an aluminum and stucco facade was installed covering up the facility.
Purchased by Cherokee County in the late 1980s for additional administrative office space, the building was subdivided from large open floor space to office suites for varied County operations. In January of 2017, the city of Canton took ownership of the facility from Cherokee County as part of an asset swap through the consolidation of fire services.