One man now owns 12 buildings in downtown Monroe - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

One man now owns 12 buildings in downtown Monroe

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - The purchase agreement for Jay Marx to sell the Southern Hardware and Supply Company, as well as the Poolside Shop has been finalized. Nolan Crane spoke with the man who paid almost $400,000 for both buildings and he is no stranger to the area.

Michael Echols works as the director of business development for Vantage Healthcare. But on his free time he buys and restores buildings in downtown like Rain Salon and Duck and Dressing. With his recent purchase of the Southern Hardware and The Poolside Shop, he now owns 12 buildings in downtown Monroe.

"It's just been a great investment and it's been a lot of fun bringing back those old buildings," said Michael Echols.

The Southern Hardware store had been in the Marx family since 1890 and after four generations Jay Marx has decided to retire. With four stories and 55,000 square feet of open space Echols sees a good opportunity to help vitalize downtown.

"I think long term the buildings set up well for some type of condominiums, or apartments or even a boutique hotel with retail across the bottom. I think there is a lot of potential for it and in the next number of months we're going to developing a plan as to what we're going to do with the buildings," said Echols.

Members of the downtown economic alliance like the vision Echols has and are grateful for investors who help make downtown the heart of the city.

"As you can see what he has done up there with the corner of North 4th Street and Desiard Street with Rain and now with the Duck and Dressing and some of his other buildings that he's doing, he has a real good vision also of not only is downtown a place to work but downtown can be a retail center and also a service center," said Larry Bratton.

These buildings have a lot of history and although the names and decor will change the look will remain the same. Although Echols bought the buildings he didn't buy the name of the stores because Marx said it's priceless and his family's name isn't for sale.

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