One of the bigger buildings along Main Street in Williamsburg, which sat empty for much of 2017, now has a new owner with some ambitious plans.
The University of the Cumberlands purchased the old Faulkner and Taylor Furniture Store building on Dec. 22 for $275,000, according to a deed filed in the Whitley County Clerk’s Office.
Faulkner and Taylor operated for 75 years before closing last February.
“Hopefully it is an attempt to help bring business back downtown,” noted University of the Cumberlands President Dr. Larry Cockrum.
He said that the university has a broad outline for what it hopes to do with the space but a lot of the specific details haven’t been worked out yet.
“The upstairs portion of it is going to be apartments for graduate students. In the downstairs we hope to do retail and hope to put a restaurant down in one part of it,” Cockrum said. “Really I can’t tell you what retail is going in there yet. We have a lot of construction ahead of us before we get to that point.”
Cockrum said that he has had some preliminary discussions with one person about the restaurant space, but it is too early to tell whether that will come to fruition.
Construction will probably start on the apartments this summer with construction on the retail space below it coming later.
“What we hope to do with the retail down below is something similar to what Stanford, Kentucky, has done to make some niche type stores. I am not really sure what is going to happen there yet,” he added.
Cockrum said that most of the retail space will be leased out, but the university will run some of it.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison said that he has been working with the university to help with the project.
“We have been kind of working with each other trying to figure out who we can get in the retail spaces and the restaurant. We have certain things that are really looking up,” Harrison noted.
“I think you are going to see a lot of things happen as far as downtown goes. This is one of those things that have kind of jumpstarted it. We can’t say for sure who or what yet, but I am really excited.”
He noted that UC will be spending a lot of money fixing up both the upstairs apartments and the downtown retail space so businesses can be recruited.
Harrison said that he has been working on a place for the apartments to have a set aside amount of parking and has bid on one spot to put in additional parking.
“That was one of the things kind of holding back the deal. If they are going to have 28 to 30 apartments, they need a place to park the people. We have those details worked out and we are going to be moving forward on it,” he added.