Millerton Antiques Center: Is it out with the old?
MILLERTON â€” The Millerton Antiques Center (MAC), an anchor store in the center of the village, is in jeopardy of closing. Thatâ€™s unless the 24 vendors who show their wares in the Main Street building can pull together and make good on the rent after their sub-landlords, Bill and Leslie Flood, move elsewhere.
â€œThey lease the whole building and are not going to renew,â€ said Sabine Gibson, who works at the center. â€œThis is going to be a huge, big hole for Millerton, never mind that the dealers will be out on the street. We are upset â€” the whole business community is very upset.â€
Gibson said vendors were given â€œvery short noticeâ€ last week when the Floods decided not to renew the lease because of a rent increase. The Floods own the successful interior design and upholstery business, Leslie Flood Interiors, located on the bottom floor of the antiques center building. However, Bill Flood said he and his wife, Leslie, informed those working at the antiques center a year ago that the lease would be up this December, and that its renewal would be in question.
â€œThey knew we were renegotiating the lease; we kept them informed,â€ he said, adding the final decision wasnâ€™t made until last Sunday, and that the couple then came in on Monday to announce their decision and have MAC manager Mary Jean Hoss make the appropriate phone calls.
While Hoss said the Floods didnâ€™t renew the lease due to the fact that the rent went up, Bill Flood said there was more to it than that.
â€œItâ€™s more than just an increase in the rent, it doesnâ€™t make any money, the antiques center,â€ he said. â€œWe took it over, 10 years ago. We own the antiques center business, and the rents [we collect from the vendors] are not able to increase there because the business has not been there.
â€œIt was strictly a business decision,â€ he added. â€œAt the end of the day we have to make money to pay the rent. My wifeâ€™s business is very successful and has floated the antiques center for years... but that building is expensive to operate.â€
Landlord Robert Quinlan, who owns the building with his business partner, Lionel Goldfrank, said the increase was â€œnot much,â€ although he acknowledged â€œthere was a jump.â€
The 15,000-square-foot, two-story building rented for $4.85 per square foot, or $6,100, per month, in 2010, according to Quinlan. The 2011 rent is set at $5.51 per square foot, or $6,900, per month. The tenant must pay for utilities and maintenance, etc., but has the option of a long-term lease (up to 10 or 20 years). The owners are not interested in selling the commercial property. In fact, when the Floods first leased the building a decade ago they offered to buy the property, but Quinlan refused. Presently, Quinlan and Goldfrank are open to allowing the antique vendors to remain on after the Floods leave and rent from month to month as long as that option remains viable.
â€œI donâ€™t care whoâ€™s there as long as itâ€™s a compatible use,â€ Quinlan said. â€œIf someone comes representing that same use with the same people and makes a proposal to rent that floor, then weâ€™re delighted.â€
Townscape member Cathy Fenn helped negotiate that agreement in order to avoid a vacancy in the village business district.
â€œWeâ€™ve been talking to people, [local business owner] Jay Reynolds and myself, to work something out so the antiques center can stay open,â€ Fenn said. â€œIt would be a shame to see it closed. We donâ€™t need a big vacant building in the center of the village. Millerton is doing so well, we wanted to see if we could help.â€
Millerton Mayor John Scutieri is glad Fenn and Reynolds stepped in.
â€œItâ€™s great,â€ he said, adding that when the news first broke there was a lot of panic. â€œItâ€™s a big building and if it were to be empty a lot of window store frontage would be a horrible thing for village merchants. The antiques center is a big draw for the village and a lot of local people work there, so itâ€™s important to all of us.â€
The Millerton Antiques Center has been in business since 1987, according to its manager, who has worked there since 2001. In addition to the 24 full-time vendors there are a couple of hundred consignors who sell items on a fairly regular basis there as well.
â€œBusiness has always been good, as opposed to other antique centers of this type,â€ Hoss said. â€œWeâ€™ve been very lucky to be in Millerton, a walking town, with the economy the way it is. I wouldnâ€™t say itâ€™s gangbusters, but itâ€™s OK.â€
Leslie Flood Interiors is moving its business to the former David Gavin Salon building in Railroad Plaza. That property is owned by Bill Flood, under the name of Millerton Properties, LLC. The building has been used most recently by the 14th Colony Artists collaborative while itâ€™s been vacant.
Quinlan said he would have liked the Floods to have remained where they were, but understands that business is business.
â€œThey would always pay rent on time; they were wonderful tenants and Iâ€™m sorry to lose them and have them leave,â€ he said, confirming the Floodsâ€™ lease expires on Dec. 31. The respect is mutual; Bill Flood described Quinlan as â€œfair,â€ but just said the numbers werenâ€™t going to work.
Quinlan, meanwhile, said while they wonâ€™t be at the antique center heâ€™s pleased the Floods are remaining in Millerton. He said itâ€™s a sign of the popularity of the village.
â€œItâ€™s attracting a younger crowd away from places as far away as Kent and Millbrook because of its village feeling, as well as of its eating places and moviehouse,â€ he said, adding there is at least one negative to the locale as well. â€œHowever, Millerton is one of the few villages in the state of New York without a sewer, and the septic systems are obsolete and not being monitored. When a new sewer system comes in businesses, especially food businesses, will thrive even more.â€
Flood agreed the village has a strong commercial base but also worried about the future.
â€œItâ€™s incredible how the village has changed; my concern is how itâ€™s going to sustain in this economy,â€ he said. â€œThis economy is pretty tough, and I donâ€™t see it getting better for a while. Weâ€™ll have to wait and see. Itâ€™s sad to see [the antiques center] close, some of those dealers have been there for a long time, but unfortunately itâ€™s a part of life.â€