REEDSVILLE - Following a devastating fire in June of 2011 that caused massive structural damage, the owners of the Dairyland Complex in Reedsville have decided to demolish the building and either lease or sell the property to other entities.
Gayle Rodgers, owner of the complex, said that after much discussion with members of her family, she has decided to sell the property to her son John Rodgers Jr., who will finance the demolition and sell the property for commercial use "to enhance this property, which has been in our family for the past 70 years."
"It was not an easy decision to make because for the past 26 years this business has been my life," Gayle Rodgers said in an interview Friday. "The challenge is that even with the insurance payout, the cost of demolition and building enhancement would require an additional $200,000. My family encouraged me not to take on more debt, but rather retire and spend more time doing things I have always put off traveling and spending time with family."
Sentinel photo by JOE?CANNON
The Dairyland Complex in Reedsville is slated for demolition. The landmark was heavily damaged during a fire in June 2011.
According to a letter sent to the businesses that currently rent space in the building, the plan is to continue operating it as is until Dec. 31.
"All other leases outside the Antique Center will be on a month-to-month lease after December 31 with an understanding that a spring demolition of the building is planned for 2013," Gayle Rodgers said in the letter. "At that time my son John will determine if the outdoor flea market will be open for business under new management. This will depend on the engineering study of the current 6.23 acres and the possible sales pending at that time."
In addition to between 50 and 60 antique dealers, other businesses in the Dairyland Complex include the office of the County Observer, Nathan Smith's Barbershop and the office of Hartley Chiropractic and Rehab.
On Friday, John Rodgers Jr. said, "We feel it is important that the people here have the proper amount of time to make whatever plans necessary to move on."
He added that as of right now, everything's wide open as to the future of the property.
"Right now we're up to selling it or putting up another building and leasing it," he said. "We'll try to cast as large a net as possible at this point."
John Rodgers said just selling the property for the sake of selling it is not the main objective.
"Because this has been in our family for so long, we are certainly going to be conscious of who it's sold to or leased to," he emphasized. "What can be done to improve this area is very important to us. We want to be good stewards of the property that we've been entrusted to."
When asked if anyone has expressed interest in the property, John Rodgers said, "We have not had any discussions as of yet. I have an attorney in Pittsburgh who will work with me as an adviser. Our intention is to test the market. Now that it's public, we're ready to entertain offers. We're at that point in the process."
John Rodgers, a native of the area, currently lives in State College and owns a Dale Carnegie Franchise that serves central and western Pennsylvania with offices in Pittsburgh. Rodgers said he has owned the franchise since 2001. It concentrates on leadership, sales and customer development.
"And now I'm a land owner," he said with a chuckle. "We all agreed as a family that I would be the lead in this. This is part of mother's retirement plan."
Prior to becoming the Dairyland Complex, the facility operated for decades as a working dairy and before that, a cannery. Then the flames flew last June.
"That was the game changer," John Rodgers lamented.