As published in the 11/1/10 issue of
(a Toledo Business Journal publication)
by Abby Hoicowitz
(a Toledo Business Journal publication)
by Abby Hoicowitz
Area businessmen – Greg Repass and Rich Iott – are investing in a new concept for the Toledo region. Construction was recently completed on a $2.6 million Phase I project including 20 units at Stone Oak Business Condominiums near Airport Highway and Albon Road. Available for personal, business, or retail use, about half of the condos function as “mancaves,” an idea Repass and Iott are expecting will take off in the Toledo area.
The condos can be bought or leased. According to Repass, the mancaves can be used to house a range of items, such as boats, motor homes, inventory, records, classic cars, hot rods, snowmobiles, personal hobbies, and more.
“Some people have million-dollar car collections and want to bring their buddies to see it,” Repass stated. “We cater to a more affluent crowd and small business person that wants a quality-built, brand new product they can really be proud of.”
Repass shared an example of a Stone Oak mancave that includes a completely restored, working Coca-Cola machine; a 1950s gumball machine; a couch converted from a vintage Coca-Cola cooler; and wainscoting made from racecar trailer flooring.
In what Repass calls the “Indy car room” loft, a table is constructed from the front wheels of a racecar that competed in the Indy 500. Bar stools were created using auto shock absorbers and chrome pickup truck bed rails are used for safety bars and handrails. A conference table has an Indy car floating underneath and a Ferrari V12 hand built, aluminum model engine as a centerpiece.
“I built the Indy car room around that centerpiece. That was my ‘swatch,’” Repass noted.
The room also utilizes Italian leather, glass mirrors, and chrome, hand assembled or built in Toledo by local craftsmen.
“Nobody else in Toledo is doing mancaves yet,” Repass explained. “Mancaves, luxury, and turnkey condominium ownership are what set us apart… This new mancave luxury condo concept will be, for the new millennium, much like self storage was for the 1970s.”
Repass also discussed several of the companies currently located in the Phase I building. For example, DreamLine Coaches uses a condo for two charter buses that charter customers to casinos, baseball games, and conventions.
Additionally, a virtual office company has recently located in the facility. Once custom renovations of the condo are completed, the space will include cubicles, a conference room, private offices, a bathroom, a kitchenette, and more.
“It’s perfect for a person just starting out. Any small starter business,” Repass noted.
Other tenants at Stone Oak include an overhead sprinkler company, a company specializing in cleanup of foreclosed residential and commercial properties, a construction company, a title company that uses its unit to store files, and a Toledo-based paper products company using two units for office space. Patsy Thompson Designs LTD uses a condo as a warehouse for quilting materials. According to Nikki Stone, warehouse manager, the company moved into the condo approximately two months ago.
According to Repass, tenants often gain business by networking with neighboring companies.
“Our major mission is to do something for the little guy,” he explained. As president of Precision Motors, he has worked on the Airport Highway and Albon site for 30 years. Since 1980, he has purchased a little land at a time and currently owns the large property. About six years ago, Iott partnered with Repass.
“Rich was one of the biggest stimuli in helping me with this [development],” Repass stated. “I didn’t know if it was a great time or market, but he said a great idea is a great idea. He really pushed and encouraged me to do it. I don’t know if I would have tried by myself.”
Once the decision was made to move forward on the project, Repass and his wife travelled across the US to research mancaves in other locations, noting what they viewed each doing right and each doing wrong.
“I have been a small businessman my whole life. We wanted to figure out a way for the little guy to have real estate ownership. Even during bad times, the banks at least recognize real estate as an asset that they’ll lend against… We really are tailor made to the cottage industry and mom and pop startup businesses.”
Approximately 25 permanent jobs and 150 local contracting jobs will be created as a result of Phase I.
Repass stated, “A big goal was to make sure we used as many northwest Ohio suppliers and companies as we could. [Iott] and I are both northwest Ohio guys; we can afford to move wherever we like, but we choose to stay here [in Toledo]. We’re really proud to use a large percentage of northwest Ohio suppliers and hire skilled northwest Ohio laborers from the community.”
Springfield Township and Lucas County have been assisting Repass and Iott with the project.
The condos are climate controlled, insulated, and designed with flex space from 1,500 and up. Additionally, they include fluorescent ceiling lighting, a 100,000 BTW GFA furnace (wired for A/C), an insulated overhead door, a commercial overhead door opener with remote, plumbing, exterior security lighting, six-inch thick concrete floors with reinforced fiberglass to support heavy buses, and wiring for high-speed Internet, cable, and phone.
Interior walls are non-load bearing and can be added / removed if needed.
Optional additions include bathrooms (sink, toilet, shower), lofts (for office storage, a poker room, etc.), air conditioning, neon lighting, cabinets, a wet bar, epoxy flooring / tile, floor drains, and diamond plate wainscoting / trim.
Repass discussed some of the benefits of purchasing a Stone Oak Business Condominium. He explained that many neighborhoods have deed restrictions prohibiting exterior buildings, and many yards are not large enough to build a mancave. Additionally, tenants don’t have to worry about grass cutting, snow plowing, or landscaping. Tenants pay their own utilities and the condo association covers insurance.
“By design, this is not a low stress environment facility,” Repass concluded. “This is a no-stress environment facility. From ownership to hanging out, whatever the situation is, my job is to make this no stress.”
Repass shared that 19 of the 20 completed condos have been sold. The company is currently taking orders for Phase II, for which it is planning to break ground in spring 2011. Another $2.6 million will be invested in the 20 units to be added on the west end of the existing 22,500 square foot facility.
Once the Phase II condos are filled, Repass and Iott plan to build at least one – and possibly two – more 40-unit facilities on the site as well. In the next 10 to 12 years, they would like to build about 20 facilities around the region, creating a franchise and cookie cutter concept with Stone Oak as the flagship.