Book House: Owner Considers Maplewood Site as Firm Plans Demolition of Historic Property

click to enlarge Michelle Barron at the Book House. - JENNIFER SILVERBERG FOR RFT
Jennifer Silverberg for RFT
Michelle Barron at the Book House.

Will the Book House find a new home?

Developers recently submitted plans to the city of Rock Hill for approval to demolish the historic site where the shop has been located for decades -- and owner Michelle Barron is now hoping to sign a lease on a new property in Maplewood.

"We are still in limbo," Barron tells Daily RFT. "We have a viable business, but we're not made out of money here. I'm really scared this house of cards could fall."

Barron is trying to negotiate with her current landlord, the incoming developers and the managers of her potential new home. If she can't reach reasonable agreements with the involved parties, she worries she may wind up homeless or out of money.

See also: - Book House: Will Developers Demolish Historic Rock Hill Site For Storage Facility? - Book House: Shop in Historic House Gets Eviction Notice, Storage Site in the Works - Archive Bookstore: Independent Shop Will Likely Shut Down, Owner "Heartbroken"

"We are in a really precarious position," she says. "I'm trying to move. I've been doing everything in our power."

Her current lease expires at the end of the month.

The Book House, which we first featured in a 2006 print story, has had a lease for more than 30 years inside of the historic two-story Gothic Revival house (9719 Manchester Road), which dates back to 1853.

The Book House. - VIA
The Book House.

Nolan Real Estate Interests LLC and GN Development, two out-of-state companies, are partners in a proposed plan to demolish the site and build an "EZ Storage" facility in its place.

Barron announced to customers toward the end of April that the property she has rented for decades may be demolished and soon after, she got her eviction notice from her landlord, Rex Stahl.

Months later, despite a campaign from supporters to stop the demolition, she says she has accepted the fact that she can't save the physical property -- and is now trying to save the business.

click to enlarge An EZ Storage facility like this could replace the Book House. - VIA GOOGLE MAPS
An EZ Storage facility like this could replace the Book House.

Barron wants to lease a property at 7352 Manchester Road in downtown Maplewood, but says she has been unable to formally seal the deal.

Meanwhile, she says she has been stuck in a rent dispute with Stahl and has received mixed-messages from GN Development officials who have made verbal promises to help her with relocation.

"We're at the eleventh hour here," she says, noting that her lease ends in a few weeks and she has a court date on July 25th regarding her ongoing legal battle with her landlord.

David Waltrip, Stahl's attorney, tells Daily RFT that he is confident the landlord and Barron are going to reach an agreement so she can extend her lease and stay through September to give her time to find a new home.

"We will allow Ms. Barron to stay until September 30, 2013 at which time she promised to vacate the property," he says. "My client has agreed to the proposed settlement.... We've asked her to pay the rent in a timely fashion."

click to enlarge Block in Maplewood where Book House may relocate. - VIA GOOGLE MAPS
via Google Maps
Block in Maplewood where Book House may relocate.

Bill Bowman, president of GN Development, tells Daily RFT that he earlier this month submitted plans for the proposed storage facility to Rock Hill officials, beginning the process of securing necessary approvals.

"Nobody wants to put her out on the street," he says, noting that his company has offered to help pay back rent involved in her ongoing dispute with Stahl.

He says that down the road -- if his project gets the green light and then moves forward -- his company would be willing to assist Barron in her move to a new location as well.

"We are just starting our process," he says, adding, "We hope we are going to get our approvals here."

Barron says she won't feel comfortable with her current situation until she has settled outstanding legal matters with her landlord -- and a signed lease for a new location. At that point, she will move forward with a new online campaign to help the business drum up support for the relocation process.

Of Waltrip's statements regarding a settlement, she adds, "I'm still waiting to get that in writing."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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