Business bringing new life to 1800s building in downtown Middletown

A more than 120-year-old building at 1044 Central Ave. in downtown Middletown will be home to Jackson Lane Design. MLH Developers, which purchased the property late last year, is renovating the site to include retail and residential space. ED RICHTER/FILE
A more than 120-year-old building at 1044 Central Ave. in downtown Middletown will be home to Jackson Lane Design. MLH Developers, which purchased the property late last year, is renovating the site to include retail and residential space. ED RICHTER/FILE

A new business is slated to move into a downtown Middletown building that is undergoing extensive renovations.

Jackson Lane Design has committed to a four-year lease, according to Kevin Kimener, of MLH Developers, which purchased 1044 Central Ave. in November for $95,000. The building was constructed in 1896, according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office.

“Downtown Middletown needs more retail and this high-end, furniture consignment retail store is supported by a market demand spanning out 20 miles and greater,” Kimener told this news outlet.

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The owner, Annie Jackson, has been operating as an interior designer for more than 15 years, including in San Diego. She organized a pop-up opening during Downtown Middletown's Women's Wine & Chocolate Walk where she sold every piece of furniture and home décor available.

Jackson, via Jackson Lane Design’s Facebook page, said she was “overwhelmed by the community support and so thrilled with the excitement everyone shared” during the event.

MLH Developers is investing about $445,000, which includes $350,000 in renovations and $95,000 in building acquisition, into the project. Kimener said.

The building was purchased with the intent of a mixed-use remodel, he said.

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“There were a number of small businesses and even restaurateurs that walked the space with options for the first floor space,” Kimener said. “Jackson Lane Design was the best fit.”

MLH Developers is planning to invest at least $400,000 to deliver “a high-end product that the Middletown’s housing study has shown is in demand in our area.”

Both apartment units are approximately 1,200 square feet, Kimener said.

“There will be a minimal build-out for the retail space for Jackson Lane Design, so the plan is to have it available before the New Year and apartments to be leasable in (early) 2020,” he said.

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MLH Developers will hire a construction crew with all required subcontractors to finish the project as planned, approximately 30 tradespeople, Kimener said.

Middletown City Council in May approved a 12-year, 100 percent Community Reinvestment Area tax abatement, one that MLH Developers said would help offset the large capital outlay that is being made.