Another of Huntington's ornate buildings goes condo - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Another of Huntington's ornate buildings goes condo

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By JAMES E. CASTO

For The State Journal

For decades, Huntington Arcade was one of the most fashionable addresses in the city's downtown.

Built in 1925, the ornate two-story arcade in the 900 block of 4th Avenue was home to high-end retail shops on its first floor, while the second level offered office space for doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

But the years weren't kind to the arcade. As downtown Huntington struggled with the competition presented by Huntington Mall, retailers began disappearing. Once a shop at the arcade was vacated, it generally stood empty. Gradually, the offices also emptied. In recent years, the old structure has been all but deserted.

Now, developer Dennis Johnson has invested $2.5 million in providing a new chapter in the arcade's history. He's renovated the old structure and transformed it into 26 two-story and one-story condos. Rechristened The Galleria, it now joins the ranks of other downtown Huntington buildings being turned into condos for downtown dwellers.

Modern in design, The Galleria's condos feature stainless steel kitchens with granite countertops, installed washers and dryers and walk-in closets. The building has been equipped with sprinklers and a high-tech alarm system.

Once a familiar part of many downtowns, Huntington's arcade is thought to be the last surviving arcade in West Virginia. One of its distinguishing features, a skylight that spans its length from 4th Avenue all the way to the alley has been restored — at a cost, said Johnson, of $150,000.

The Galleria offers its residents a fitness center, conference room, lounge and guest suites which can be reserved for visitors.

The renovation has preserved two retail shop spaces on 4th Avenue. One is occupied by George's Tailoring, a long-time tenant that remained as other shops moved out. The other space soon will be home to Mulberry Street Meatball Co. and Deli. The Hagy family of Huntington's LaFamiglia restaurant will operate the deli, which will be located in the space once occupied by the Peanut Shoppe.

Originally opened by Planters Peanuts in 1924, the Peanut Shoppe was a downtown Huntington institution for more than 80 years. The shop was ideally located for movie fans who would stop in on their way to or from the nearby Keith-Albee Theater. When Planters decided to exit the retail business, the shop became locally owned and over the years was owned and operated by a series of families. It closed in 2009.

More information about the Galleria can be found at thegalleriawv.com.