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Downtown jewel under renovation
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Downtown jewel under renovation

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The former Smith Jewelers store on Main Street is going through a major renovation with the hopes of landing an upscale restaurant.

New Line Construction Group recently acquired the building. During a recent tour, company owner Joe Faraci outlined his plans for the structure, which was built as a bank in the 1930s and contains several massive concrete safes. The floors are all concrete – they had to be to support the safes, he said.

Residents who shopped at the jewelry store are probably most familiar with the safe on the first floor with its round entrance. The door and frame alone of the safe weigh about 44,000 pounds. Smith Jewelers closed in 2011.

Faraci said he might sell the safes and will remove them “very carefully.”

The builder said he wants to celebrate the building’s history and embellish its fine features, like the open first floor and outside columns.

“We are not putting lipstick on a pig,” he said. “We are going to gut it. We are taking out the yucky and putting in all brand new.”

Before renovating the first floor, Faraci plans to remodel the third floor, which most recently housed the law office of former Wytheville Mayor Trent Crewe. That top floor will house the New Line Construction offices and should be complete by the first of the year.

Then, attention will turn toward the façade and first/second floor interior. On the inside, the main floor will have high ceilings that reach to the second floor. It will be open and airy.

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On the outside, plans call for the display windows to be torn out, but the huge columns in front will remain. Faraci is thinking about a dramatic color for the façade and is leaning toward a dark gray/black. Work on the façade should begin in the spring or early summer.

“It’s going to have bold colors and brand new glass,” he said. “We are going to make a beautiful building out of it. Something people will want to be in. I want it to be a nice place to take your girl.”

Faraci’s ideal tenants will be a restaurant that can capitalize on the Millwald Theatre, which is slated for renovation, too. He wants tenants that will complement the direction of downtown and the theatre. He said he prefers a food and beverage business, but it not opposed to a retail space.

If he finds a tenant early enough, the tenant can be in on the renovations, he said.

“We want it to be gorgeous on the inside; an awesome option for the residents of Wytheville,” Faraci said. “A very classy place and we hope to find that special someone. We want to make the right choice for the town so we have a nice place to enjoy.”

Faraci wants to learn more about the history of the building and is asking people to contact him by email or the company Facebook page with information/stories/photos. He has already posted a video about the renovation and plans to keep people updated on the renovation’s progress with more videos and posts.

“We are planning on posting videos to document the process,” he said. “We want the community to be excited and want to see what’s coming next. We are here to stay.”

For information on the project or to share information with Faraci, visit the New Line Construction Group Facebook page or email contact@newlineconstructiongroup.com.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611. Ext. 35, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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