“We tried to buy properties there for years and could never come to terms on prices,” said Patel, who’s been in the commercial real estate business full-time for more than a decade.
And the man who said, “I love downtown Hamilton,” isn’t in the City of Sculpture to make a quick buck, so don’t expect to see a national chain at 250 High St. He’s investing to be invested in the community.
To demonstrate what type of property owner he intended to be, he shared a recent experience at one of his area properties. The owner of a business lost her husband a year ago and wanted to sell, but she was at the end of the lease. A franchisee of a national pizza chain wanted to move into that spot.
Patel said, “No.”
“My operations manager came to me and said, ‘Are we gonna kick her out?” And I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ We don’t ruin people’s lives and businesses over money.”
They gave her a month-to-month lease while she worked to sell her business, and then he would work out an active lease agreement with whomever she sold the business to, Patel said.
With High St. Cafe, he’s not pushing for a national chain restaurant, which is not what most Hamiltonians want to see downtown. The main drag of Hamilton, from High Street to Main Street, is full of local business owners. They want something unique to Hamilton, and so does Patel.
“Money isn’t the ultimate motivator for me,” Patel said. “We have a lot of fun doing this, and we love hanging out with our tenants.”
Now, as the Spooky Nook complex draws more and more people to the city every weekend, and businesses and investors staking a claim anywhere in the city, Hamilton isn’t just growing. It’s glowing up. And there are many cheerleaders telling everyone about Hamilton, including Montgomery, ever since the Marcum Apartments opened in 2018.
“It’s an original downtown, it’s got that old-school feel. You feel like you’re in a different city when you’re there,” he said, adding that every weekend is “live” and “booming.”
“People are out, people are at the park, people are walking their dog,” Montgomery said. “It’s that feel that everybody wants. It’s Hamilton. It’s pretty amazing.”
And it started with somebody taking a chance.