Brian Martin was presented the Mayor's Award at the Greater of Greer Chamber of Commerce Business dinner. Martin's family is pictured with Greer Mayor Rick Danner.
Brian Martin and his wife, Betsy Potter, envisioned downtown living with the creation of seven apartments.
Brian Martin enjoys showing some history recovered from the former Bailles Collins Department Store that has been renovated into The Lofts at Greer Station.
Martin, an attorney at 212 Trade Street, has five apartments he leases – from studio to two-bedroom – plus two additional one-bedroom units he rents for Airbnb quests.
Martin was honored with the Mayor’s Award, initiated by Mayor Rick Danner, at the annual Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce Small Business dinner.
“In the past I’ve recognized a long-standing member of the community,” Danner said. “This time I wanted to recognize Brian because he has been here a number of years and drove a stake so far and deep in the ground that he has made a big difference in the community.”
Danner said Martin’s impact brings added value to businesses in Greer.
First there were two apartments on the second floor of Martin’s law firm.
Then Martin and his wife, Betsy Potter, took a calculated financial risk to purchase the Bailles Collins building, that served as a two-story department store from 1931-1993, that extended next door to develop and design The Lofts at Greer Station. That has five residual units and 1,700 square feet for storefront retail space.
“We took the opportunity, which was a little scary at the time, and did it successfully,” Potter said of the first two apartments. “We’re stretching our financial necks out a little bit.”
Two apartments, in the rear of The Lofts, strategically use the mezzanine from the former department store and are designated for Airbnb guests.
The plan was to bring people to live and work in a downtown environment and to benefit other small business owners with ready-made foot traffic.
“These are a perfect fit for single professionals and executives, young people with good jobs who don’t want the hassles of maintaining a home,” Martin said.
“They like the uniqueness of living in town and they like the character,” Potter said.
“This is home to me,” Martin said of his business and residential investments. “Things are looking up for Greer. As we get more investments we will bring more people downtown.”
Greer fits downtown residents, said Martin. “Tenants have absolutely loved it. They want to be within distance of parks and entertainment.”
Jason Clark (BIN112), Ann Wallace (above Wild Ace on Trade Street) and Scott Stevens (The Davenport) also made their homes above the buildings they bought. Stevens and his wife, Lindsay, have expanded their loft living space to accommodate the addition of two children.
Martin’s first entry into the residential market were first homes for Stomping Grounds owner/operators Lisa Suber and Grey Garland next door, and former Greer CPW General Manager Jeff Tuttle and his wife.
It’s also has meant Potter becoming a residential agent managing the new tenants and the frequent new guests at their Airbnb.
Martin said his Airbnbs average 21 days occupancy a month. There’s no selling, the Airbnb network handles that.
“We had one guy who was staying in the Hyatt in downtown Greenville and wanted something more quaint and in a smaller town,” Martin said. “He ended up leaving there and staying here on Friday and Saturday.”
Martin said a couple from Washington State were adopting a child and stayed at the Airbnb.
When Martin developed his first two apartments he said the demand for downtown housing proved to be overwhelming. “The one bedroom became available within 24 hours of our leasing it,” Martin said. “The two bedroom was leased in three days.”
Thus the five-unit apartment next door came to fruition.
“We’ve got good restaurants and have traffic for retail downtown,” Martin said. “I love the idea of people eyeing downtown and revitalizing downtown again,” Martin said.
Martin incorporated the historical components of the building. “That was quite a process,” Martin said.