Another historic building in Hamilton is no longer vacant, and officials say its transformation is a sign the city’s economic revitalization is beginning to spread beyond High Street.
The building at 100 S. Third St. that previously was home to Chaco Credit Union is being converted into The Benison, an event center.
Mallory Greenham, small business development specialist for the city’s Economic Development Department, said it is important to note that the building is not on High Street, but a block away.
“We’re starting to see an uptick in traffic and interest in buildings and space off of our main arteries,” she told the Journal-News. “We’re filling in those gaps and the rings of revitalization are beginning to spread outward.”
With more than $100 million invested in downtown in the past six years, the city “had a really great things going already,” Greenham said.
“With the groundbreaking of the Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill project a few weeks ago, it’s becoming clear that the best time to grab a spot in Hamilton was yesterday,” she said. “Our move-in ready space is not sticking around long.”
Benison owner Christy Nelson said she fell in love with the building’s architecture and its nearly 100-year-old history when she first toured its interior in the spring.
“We walked in and it just took our breath away,” said Nelson, who along with her husband purchased the building in October. “We looked up and were like, ‘Wow,’ and … our hearts were captured. We were like, ‘This is it.’”
The Benison is touted as a historic bank featuring “soaring ceilings, elegant plasterwork” and a massive bank vault, offering a a one-of-a-kind venue for everything from weddings to business meetings.
“It’s a very versatile space,” Nelson said. “You can have round seating, seating around long banquet tables, seating in rows. You can rent out multiple rooms so you can have breakout sessions if you’re doing a conference.”
Nelson said she plans to fully renovate and open the main floor space by next spring.
Space above The Benison will be rented to other businesses, she said.
To have such a large, historic, vacant building become active again is “a huge win for Hamilton,” Greenham said.
“The unique event center space is a perfect example of the types of adaptive reuse of historic buildings we hope for, and the additional available office space is much needed,” she said.
In May, the Journal-News reported that several upper floors of historic buildings downtown are being renovated into office space.
“The location is perfect too, just steps away from our downtown urban corridors,” Greenham said of The Benison.
The venue’s name is derived from the Latin word “benedictio,” which means “a spoken blessing,” Nelson said.
The Benison features seating for as many as 300 guests in the main area and up to 25 guests on a balcony space.
The Benison also makes use of its unique history as a bank. A Grooms Quarters, a formal “man-cave” room, is located inside a basement safe.
Two other rooms will offer space to conduct business seminars, professional development and training for up to 25 or 15 guests.
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