The Groover-Stewart Drug Co. building at 25 Market St. N. has been sold for $1.8 million to a limited liability company headed by Michael Upchurch, CEO of Downtown-based Delta Settlements.
The deed was recorded June 16, with 25 Market Street North LLC purchasing the building from Grover Stewart Inc. It has a 2013 in-progress assessed and market value of just under $1.4 million, according to the property appraiser's website.
The building has been vacant since 2011. The Public Defender's Office was the building's tenant before moving to the Jake Godbold City Hall Annex.
Upchurch on Monday said he and other parties are still working through plans for the building, but that Delta Settlements will relocate there to occupy some of the space. The company, located at 135 W. Bay St., is "the leading settlement planning and structured settlements company in the United States," according to its deltasettlements.com website.
Upchurch said the historic nature of the building, the location in the burgeoning entertainment district and the opportunity to own all were factors in the purchase.
"I'm attracted to it and it's an opportunity to own a Downtown building. I'm confident we can redevelop it," he said.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Although certain aspects are not finalized, Upchurch said plans will call for a more "lofty" feel that will feature 12-foot ceilings and a rooftop lounge available to employees and tenants.
He said he is in discussion with a company to occupy one of the building's three floors, but declined to offer details. Another option could be a business incubator for parts of a floor.
He said he is "casting a complete wide net" for potential tenants and thinks the building will be attractive to young professionals, groups and firms that want a more "casual look and feel" than that provided by Downtown's skyscrapers.
He said he is working with the City on concessions for lighting, landscaping and beautification, but not for incentives. He said the biggest obstacle is security, but was confident in Downtown's direction.
"I feel it is on the upswing," he said. "Inevitably it is going to happen to East Downtown and I see this as a cornerstone type of building."