Partners have big plans for building

Last month, the Frank’s Ladies Apparel building at 317 E. Main St. in Front Royal was sold at auction for $525,000.

Business partners Mike Silek, the son of store founder Frank Silek, John Marlow, the former mayor of Front Royal, and Donnie Poe, a local contractor, bought the building with the intention of turning it into residential and commercial space.

The building was home to Frank’s Ladies Apparel for nearly 30 years. Silek said he is glad to own the building once again.

“When my mother and I and my wife decided to sell that building back in 1998, it was with a heavy heart,” Silek said. “My mother didn’t want to sell and I know if she were alive today, she would be happy to see we have it once again.”

According to Silek, the business partnership is different from standard business arrangements, in that he, Marlow and Poe have known each other for years.

“I trust my partners in this venture,” Silek said. “I’ve known Donnie since we were in the first grade and the Marlows have been friends with my family since before I was born. Mr. Marlow’s wife even worked for my parents when she was a teenager.”

The 18,000 square-foot building went to auction after being on the market for more than a year. Wells Fargo, the lender for the previous tenant, Harmony Place Women’s Shelter, foreclosed on the building after the organization could not muster funds to stay. The building was listed at $995,000 by Nelson and Associates of Winchester and assessed to be worth $918,000.

Silek said he was surprised he and his partners were able to buy the building for such a low price.

“I expected the property to go for about $700,000 to $750,000 at auction,” Silek said. “We were just lucky that when we got there, the other bidders didn’t really see a need to buy the location, for whatever reason. Sometimes you get lucky at auction.”

According to Silek, the trio intends to open 15-18 apartments above the first floor and to use the first floor space for commercial entities. Once permits are granted for renovations and renting the apartments, Poe will remodel the living spaces and act as the apartment manager.

Silek estimated within 60 days a business will move into the storefront and within 90 days from getting the permits, renovations will be complete. He said he expects all the apartments to be filled within six to eight weeks.

Silek said for the commercial space, he has received offers from two retailers, an office and a restaurant. While Silek said he is “not at liberty to discuss potential tenants” he does have an idea of the types of businesses he wants to fill the first floor.

“We want a business with a lot of capital, who we know will stay in that space for years to come,” Silek said. “We aren’t going to reopen Frank’s, but we would like a business who will serve the community with the same type of longevity.”

As for the apartments, Silek said they would be priced $650 a month, with water and sewer included. According to Silek, he wants people who can afford the rent to move in.

“While there are plenty of young couples who do just fine, we really would like to see some older tenants because they are generally more stable and take better care of their living spaces,” Silek said.

According to Silek, six apartments only need minor renovations and should be ready to rent shortly after the permits are approved. He said downtown is a place plenty of people want to live.

“There’s waiting lists for apartments everywhere in Front Royal, but downtown is a desirable area,” Silek said. “There are nice antique stores, strong, independently owned restaurants and a great movie theater. Having that in walking distance makes the building a must-rent location.”

Silek said the partners would release an announcement once the apartments are ready for rent and a business signs off to lease the bottom floor.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com