Peacock Alley owner John Davis said he’s looking at converting the space into an open-air meeting facility.
“If we don’t have something lined up in the next month or so, we are going to go ahead and do it as an open-air facility. I’ve already talked to the fire marshal and the building inspector, and we know what we have to do to do that,” he said of the 14,000-square-foot building in downtown Dalton that was gutted by fire in October 2011.
“The idea is to put back in all the windows and stuff, but not put a roof on it. We’d put the restrooms back in. We’d redo the restaurant portion, which wasn’t burned. We’d use it as an outdoor meeting facility, for weddings and parties and things like that. Several towns have these, and I’ve been to see a few of them.”
At the time of the fire Peacock Alley housed 10 businesses. Davis said a couple of those have relocated but most simply closed after the fire.
Davis said he and officials from the Downtown Dalton Development Authority and other agencies have spent more than a year trying to land an anchor tenant for the building.
“We’ve talked to a lot of different people in a lot of different places. We were looking for a game-changing business,” he said. “We’ve approached people like Trader Joe’s. We’ve talked to Mellow Mushroom. Those are the sorts of businesses that could draw people downtown if we could get them. No one is in the expansion mode right now.”
Davis said rebuilding without an anchor tenant just doesn’t make financial sense.
“You’d basically have to go in and build a new building inside of it. Those old walls, you can’t guarantee the load they will bear, so you basically don’t use them,” he said. “It’s too much money. Just to put the roof back on is $400,000.”
Davis, who has owned Peacock Alley since 2007, says he has also received some offers to buy the building, but he said turning it into an open-air meeting place would allow it to be used while keeping it available for one of those game-changing tenants.
“We own the restaurant and 5,000 more square feet next to that. All told, we could probably put together 25,000 square feet for someone,” he said.
Peacock Alley, for many years the home of Fraker’s Hardware, is named for a 30-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 41 that includes Dalton and the Ringgold area. The road got its nickname from the days when women would hang tufted bedspreads all along the roadside to sell to passersby. Many bore elaborate, colorful peacock designs.