New owner plans to develop former Piedmont Blood Center site

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The former Blood Connection building at 186 E. Main St. in downtown Spartanburg and will soon be opened up for leasing opportunities, and, possibly, redevelopment.

A prominent historic building in downtown Spartanburg has changed hands. But the new owner said it might be a few months before he formulates a plan for the site.

Property records showed Spartanburg businessman Alexander Orehowski purchased the two-story, 14,400-square-foot former Piedmont Blood Center space at 186 E. Main St. across from Denny’s Plaza. on Aug. 25. Orehowski purchased the building for $518,000 through his company Bellwood Lane Construction LLC from Chris and Cara Lynn Cannon, of Spartanburg.

“My plan is to refurbish the building and have commercial units downstairs and apartments upstairs,” said Orehowski, who owns The Bargain Mill and Ice Cream U Scream off Union Street beside the Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail. “I’m really interested in restoring the building to what it was 80 years ago. It’s a significant cost and it will likely be February before I will be able to reach a decision.”

In the meantime, Orehowski said he will soon open the building up for leasing opportunities.

He said he would gladly entertain “reasonable” offers from any parties interested in purchasing the building before February.

This photo from 1974 shows the building at 186 E. Main St. shortly before the opening of downtown Spartanburg’s Main Street Mall. Photo courtesy of Spartanburg County Public Libraries’ B&B Studio Collection.

The building is located in the row of shops along northern East Main Street between Prices’ Store for Men and the Aug. W. Smith building.

Greenville-based developer Blue Wall Real Estate Group is investing $10.5 million to transform the Aug. W. Smith building at 174 E. Main St. into a mixed-use facility featuring 45 apartments and ground-level retail spaces.

It’s just one of several multimillion-dollar projects underway in downtown Spartanburg.

“There is a lot of growth going on in downtown,” Orehowski said. “That is expected to continue during the next 10 to 15 years. I am happy to be a part of it.”

Orehowski said he is looking into abandoned buildings tax credits, but knows he will need to secure additional capital for a renovation of the 1926 building.

The Piedmont Blood Center shuttered in October 2010. Despite sitting vacant for the past several years, the building’s appeal has increased.

Property records showed the Cannons purchased the building in May 2013 from the Spartanburg County Medical Society for $305,000.

This photo from 1967 shows the building’s original brick facade. Photo courtesy of Spartanburg County Public Libraries’ B&B Studio Collection.

Chris Cannon, president and CEO of Cannon Roofing, said he and his wife planned a residential development in the building, which was part of Aug. W. Smith Co.’s retail operation after Main Street was closed off in 1973 to create a pedestrian mall. Those plans were put on hold, but the building received several upgrades, including a new roof.

“It was just a little bit too big for what we planned,” he said. “But it has great bones and I think it could accommodate something that would be great for downtown.”

Neighboring businesses agree with Cannon’s assessment.

“I am convinced that this block is the key that will help downtown Spartanburg unlock its full potential,” said Harry Price, owner of Price’s Store for Men. “Certainly, [Orehowski’s] building is an important piece that holds tremendous promise for attracting new retail, dining, or residential development to downtown.”

Andew Babb with NAI Earle Furman represented the Cannons in the transaction. Tim Satterfield with Coldwell Banker Commercial Caine represented Orehowski.

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