Obstetrician David Patton says he has no business plans for the former Fountain Hobby building he recently acquired on Charleston’s West Side.
“I guess honestly it boiled down to wanting to do something good for the West Side,” Patton said Monday. “I realize that restoring that building is a losing proposition. There will be more spent on that building than it’ll be worth.”
A recorded deed at the Kanawha County Courthouse shows DJP Holdings LLC and Fountain Hobby owner Shirley Morse transferred ownership but no money. Patton is listed as principal of the holding company.
The building is in emergency need of repairs.
“Every time I drive past it, I think, ‘I hate to see this thing torn down,’” Patton said. “Right now our main objective is to get trusses ordered and a new roof on it.”
Patton said the building has taken on an enormous amount of damage from the defective roof. “. . . The roof is caving in. Every time it rains water pours inside.”
His aim, Patton says, is to restore the building then find a buyer or renter interested in using it for something. The building is long on character, and memories, for generations of Kanawha Valley residents who bought arts and hobby supplies there until it closed in late 2016.
Patton said he has scheduled a meeting with someone who specializes in acquiring historic tax credits, to reduce the long-term cost of renovations. A tax credit can either be used to offset costs for the person applying for it or it can be sold to another developer.
The physician gained both a convenient location and an expansive office in October 2019, when he took over the long-vacant Kelley’s Men’s Shop at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Washington Street West. Patton also keeps an office in Beckley.
His office at 108 Washington St. W. is within walking distance of Charleston Area Medical Center’s Women and Children’s Hospital, just across the Elk River. It is also a short block from the Fountain Hobby building at Washington Street West and Bigley Avenue.
West Side developer Tighe Bullock has made extensive use of historic tax credits in acquiring about a dozen properties, including the old Staats Hospital, in what has come to be known as “Elk City,” a business district roughly consisting of part of Tennessee Avenue; two blocks of Washington Street West; and part of Bigley Avenue. Bullock could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Staats is much larger than the Fountain Hobby building and is positioned nearly across Washington Street West from it. It too, had a faulty roof, and Bullock had help from the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority in putting on a new one.
As for Fountain Hobby, Patton said, “I have no certain agenda for the building other than to try and restore it and find whatever might want to go in there . . . a restaurant, a brewery, sporting goods . . . who knows?”
Patton says his grandfather worked for a West Side sign company for 30 years, supplying signage at multiple locations. He said 1970s interstate construction took his grandfather’s home, which stood near where the interstate bridge ramp is now.
A sticking point in the Fountain Hobby rehab is the uncertain arrival of trusses used to construct a new roof. Patton said the trusses could take anywhere from four weeks to three months.
“We’re hoping by the end of the summer to have the building completely gutted and a new roof on it,” Patton said. “The only thing stopping us is how long it takes just for building materials.”