Kress opening a milestone for Lower Dexter and Montgomery
MONTGOMERY – Thursday marked a milestone for a decade’s worth of planning, development and investment in downtown Montgomery as community leaders and stakeholders gathered for the pre-opening celebration of Lower Dexter Avenue’s cornerstone, the newly refurbished Kress Building at 39 Dexter. The Holiday Pop Up Market, presented by local events and production company Lightning Line, will make history as the first public event in the space with 45 local makers, artisans and performers Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“This is a pivotal moment in our community as we celebrate the revival of one of the most historic buildings on what is arguably the most historic street in America,” Mayor Todd Strange said. “But what’s most exciting is the potential for continued growth – growth in residential, retail and Montgomery’s entrepreneurial spirit – thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Bullers and MontgomeryBUILDS. To do something of this stature takes tenacity, courage and vision.”
The City of Montgomery closed on the sale of 39 Dexter on June 2, 2014. In the time since, Kress developer MontgomeryBUILDS invested more than $20 million into restoration of the building, which will offer mixed-use residential and retail space targeting local businesses and entrepreneurs – demonstrating the developer’s commitment to the community. But the developer sees itself as more than an expert in restoring historic buildings; MontgomeryBUILDS founder Sarah Beatty Buller wants to help build community by finding and cultivating local entrepreneurs.
Lease agreements have been completed with local companies originally incubated at the developer’s One Court Square property – located just across the historic Court Square Fountain – since Nov. 2015. Prevail Union Coffee, I AM MORE THAN Tours and James Barnum’s Chop Shop will be among the first cohort of businesses scheduled to move in early 2018. All three businesses have contributed to the burgeoning growth and creative spirit on Lower Dexter.
“Those incubator spaces served as runway for these startups, and now we’re excited to offer these and other local entrepreneurs a home at the Kress Building,” said MontgomeryBUILDS’ Zac Gibbs. “The ongoing collaboration and encouragement from Mayor Strange and his team has made a big difference.”
Sarah Beatty Buller agrees, “It is exciting to be working with a city government that is forward thinking and flexible. We at MontgomeryBUILDS continue to use everything in our toolbox to clear pathways for entrepreneurs like Michelle, Wade and James. Their passion is infectious. It is people like them who will distinguish downtown Montgomery as a destination and home. I feel honored to be on this journey.”
MontgomeryBUILDS founders, the Buller family, are not natives of Montgomery and reside in New York City, but saw opportunity in Montgomery when Mark Buller opened a branch of his building company, MarJam Supply, in 2012. Almost immediately, Mark and Sarah Beatty Buller, were struck by the extraordinary history on Dexter Avenue. They entered into an agreement with the city to purchase several blighted buildings on Dexter, including 39 Dexter (Kress), 61& 67 Dexter (the Concert Hall), 71 Dexter, 100 Dexter, 116 Dexter, 39 South Perry, 1 Court Square, 121 Montgomery Street, 129 Montgomery Street, 136 Montgomery Street, 801 North Perry – The Yards at Western Rail and some acreage along the Alabama River downtown. They considered the Kress Building their most ambitious and symbolic project, and therefore the ideal starting point to incubate and learn for all future projects. The mixed-use development’s 28 luxury residential units were completed for occupancy in August 2017. Anchor retail tenants in Kress on Dexter will be open for business early 2018.