The All Saints Coca-Cola building remains up for sale despite numerous attempts to turn it into a small business venture.
Jeff Phipps bought the building 10 years ago. He says there have been many conversations about the potential projects there, but none have moved forward.
The building originally served as a bottling plant for Coca-Cola in the 1940s. For the last 10 years, the historic building has largely sat empty. It’s covered in graffitti and sits across a strip of small business near Gaines St. Barbed wire hangs across the top and a large sign advertises a redevelopment project that has never materialized.
Residents and local business owners are hoping that will change soon.
Rafael Marimon sits in the back of a coffee shop near the Coca-Cola building. He calls himself a community activist. He thinks revamping the Coca-Cola building could drive business up for everyone and help the community.
“We are just advocating for that," Marimon said. "You know, buildings such as the Coco-Cola building can turn into something magnificent and great that can benefit the community not just the business owners."
Michael Nazareth is co-owner of Serenity coffee lounge. He says Gaines Street and All Saints are supported by small businesses that patronize each other.
“It seems as though everybody is just trying to help each other out." Nazareth said. This is a very local area. If you live around here you don’t shop corporate, you don’t shop wherever. You are going to the local businesses and you are supporting them.”
But, Nazareth doesn't want to see the history of the building lost.
“I think it would be nice if whoever developed that area, you know, honored that building and really tried to make that building work," Nazareth said. "It would be really cool to walk into that building and see the history of it and also [see it] helping local businesses.”
For the last few years rumors have circled about the building, including a supposed plan to renovate it into a gin distillery. But the project never materialized.
“Deen Minardi [and I] were discussing some years ago about putting a distillery in there and that never really got to anything," Phipps said. "But it is a good location for such a thing.
Phipps also had hopes to use the space as workforce housing but the plans fell through.
“And it’s been sitting ever since," Phipps said. " At one time we operated a little music venue out of there called the Hop Yard and we never did renovate the building so the Hop Yard didn’t do very well."
Phipps says he’d like to reopen the bar and add a karaoke venue, but he needs a financial backer.
"Actually, at the moment we are talking to another group about putting a karaoke bar and a speakeasy in there,” Phipps said.