Cholpon Ata Development, LLC is busy refurbishing the unique antiquity that was kept alive in 172 Spruce St. for numerous decades.
“The key thing about this retail space, is this is the best preserved area in Thomas and Davis,” Cholpon Ata Owner Kevin Jones said. “I think of this room as a time capsule.” As construction continues inside and outside the building, Cholpon Ata aims to highlight the aspects of the building that survived for so many years.
“We fell in love with the retail space when we walked in,” Jones said. When Cholpon Ata purchased the building, the siding, flooring, ceiling, electricity, stove, sinks, and bathtubs were all original and in relatively good condition.
There is even a large, ornate safe that the original owners used still in the building. An employee recently figured out the combination to the safe, rendering it useable. Cholpon Ata was also able to retrofit the original electrical wiring, so that it passed code and could be used.
“It is part of the character of the building, it is part of the history. If you can save it, it’s a snapshot of history,” Jones said.
Not only were some of the original aspects of construction preserved, the rich history of the building also lives on. The Milkint family came through Ellis Island in 1898 from Lithuania and eventually made their way down to the booming coal town of Thomas. Then, they built 172 Spruce Street as a general store. Tacked onto one of the display cases in the retail space are the original business licenses issued to the Milkint family.
In the 1960s, the general store closed down and the building was sold. Fortunately, the next owner solely used the space for storage, which helped preserve the integrity of the original interior. In reference to one of the retail spaces, Jones said, “To my knowledge, as far as I can tell, this side has not been used for anything since they walked out the door in 1967, other than storage.”
Work began at the Spruce St. property in Thomas in September of 2016 and is slated for completion in March. When complete, two retail spaces and six apartments will be available.
Part of Cholpon Ata’s overall mission is to create retail space and housing in Thomas. Jones recognizes the housing problems this area faces. Of the six apartments, four are two bedroom apartments, and two are one bedroom apartments. The two bedroom apartments are approximately 1,000 square feet, and the one bedroom apartments are 650 square feet. Two of the apartments will be accessible for tenants who are physically disabled.
Two retail spaces on the ground level will be available. One of the retail spaces is approximately 1,000 square feet, and the other is 800 square feet. “The ideal business, in my opinion, is a general store,” Jones said. The open floor plan and the display cases would provide ample opportunity for customers to peruse goods.
Cholpon Ata also owns the property next to 172 where the dilapidated building was recently demolished. With partial funding through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and help from the Woodlands Development Group, the demolition project was completed. After cleanup is complete, gravel will be laid to provide parking space for the retail locations and apartments.