CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It could be a coffee shop. Or an art gallery. Maybe a combination of the two, with space for working artists in the back.
Tighe Bullock has plenty of ideas for the space he's creating on the West Side. All he needs is a tenant.
Since buying a 100-year-old commercial building in the heart of the Elk City Historic District in 2009, he's restored one of its twin storefronts and all of the second floor.
Elements, a beauty shop and spa, occupies the space on the right, beside the alley. Bullock's sister, Megan, leased half the second floor for her graphic arts business, Mesh, and he uses the back half for storage.
Now he's tackling the second storefront, most recently home to Freeman's Restaurant. For ideas, he turned to a recent market survey by West Side Main Street.
"There was a resounding need for a neighborhood hangout -- a professional atmosphere, a coffee shop where people could meet for business meetings.
"Within a 50- to 100-yard radius we have so many professionals -- architects, engineers. They all go downtown for a cup of coffee. We'd like to change that.
"I'd like to see a local coffee shop-slash-gallery. I've talked to some local artists."
The building has room for artists to not only show their work, but also produce it, he said. "This back space would be perfect for a couple of artists to share, like a potter. I could see doing that upstairs, too."
Just 24 years old, Bullock learned how to fix up old buildings while still in college, working on his father's building across the street. John Bullock's historic renovation of the Gaddy Engineering offices is now a neighborhood showpiece.
"I saved almost every penny from that," Tighe Bullock said. At 303 W. Washington St., he is his own general contractor.
"A lot of sweat equity. To do your own building you don't have to have a license. I do my own blueprints. I arrange my own financing. First Bank of Charleston has been great to work with. I've got a few other places, but this is my favorite. It's got a lot of potential."
Blue plastic covers the opening where Bullock has removed the old façade along Washington Street. Inside, he's gutted the interior back to the bare brick walls.