Two local entrepreneurs are breathing new life into a pair of downtown Huntington buildings as they try to do their part to make the community a better place to live.
Brandon and Miranda Bolinger, owners of Bolinger Property Management, announced Tuesday that they signed their first long-term lease with Healthy Hut, a local health drink store, over the summer. Healthy Hut is expected to move into the 1,200 square-foot space located at 620 N. Jefferson St. sometime in October while the Bolingers continue to work on renovating a 1,600 square-foot space next door at 626 N. Jefferson St.
“We are not quite there yet, but we are almost there,” Miranda said. “We definitely take pride in it. There’s a lot of work that we do that’s gross and behind the scenes, so when it gets to this point where it looks pretty, it’s worth it. This is such a good location. So many people see it, so it’s fun to talk about with the community.”
The Bolingers said that they grew up in Warren and graduated from Huntington North High School, so now that they are raising kids of their own, they jumped at the opportunity to secure their first commercial property project in hopes that the buildings will add to the growing downtown business scene.
“It’s good. It’s different,” Miranda said of their first commercial project. “It’s so fun having a building that so many people drive by and see. I think that what we both like the most is taking something that’s old and bringing it back to life, updating it. These buildings are older and have been used for a bunch of different things, but with proper work you can bring them back to life.”
The buildings were most recently used by Plasterer Antiques, but the couple decided to separate the two buildings to allow for two new storefronts. Brandon said a lot of the work on the buildings has been cosmetic, but he said they put significant work into updating the utilities to meet code requirements.
The Bolingers said their goal is to find another business to occupy the other side, but they said they are waiting to finish up the 626 N. Jefferson St. property construction until they find a prospective tenant since they want to renovate the property to fit any prospective company’s needs.
“I think it’s an awesome thing that Healthy Hut is going to be downtown. I’m super excited for them,” Miranda said. “I hope somebody will come in next door and possibly compliment their business, like a boutique or a yoga studio. There’s all kinds of different opportunities.”
Miranda and Brandon said it was the location that sold them on purchasing the buildings.
“This is one of the downtown buildings that everyone has to drive by before they split off at Park Avenue, so the traffic volume through here is greater than the downtown square,” Miranda said.
“We thought it would be a great location for businesses and an opportunity for us to step up and provide good places for businesses to grow,” Brandon added.
Entrepreneurship runs in the Bolinger family, Brandon says. Miranda’s parents owned a local construction company and hair salon business, and Brandon’s family owned Bolinger Propane Service in Warren. After acquiring a few rental units in the Huntington County area, the couple wanted to expand their operations to help with the development of downtown.
“We have kids and are raising them here, so we wanted to contribute to the local economy,” Miranda said.
The Bolingers said their project was expedited with help from a local facade program being administered by the Huntington Department of Community Development and Redevelopment. Miranda said the director of the department, Bryn Keplinger, has been very helpful in administering the 50/50 matching grant.
“We are super grateful. Everyone has been so helpful,” Miranda said. “I’ve reached out to other business owners, and they have really stepped up with giving us information.”
Summit Painting, a local painting company, completed the outside restoration recently.
“It expedited the process so we could get the property open,” Brandon said of the facade program.
The Bolingers said their next goal is to start looking at other opportunities to help the growth in downtown.
“We want to see other businesses succeed,” Miranda said. “This is long term for us, so we are excited to see what happens and do our part to help the community.”
The Bolingers plan to rent a one-bedroom apartment and the 1,600 square-foot commercial space at the 626 N. Jefferson St. address in the coming months.