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October 17, 2014

Experienced renovator turns to Bealeton project

It’s a beautiful project. He’s done a wonderful job. I just hope he can get some tenants in there.
— Bealeton native and Realtor Carl Faller
Bealeton project
• What: 3,800-square-foot former store and adjacent house on acre in Bealeton.

• Owner: Remington Professional Buildings LLC, James R. Cheatham of Bealeton.

• Improvements: Parking, walkways, landscaping and lighting; ADA restrooms and build-out to suit tentants.

• Zoning:

• Potential uses:
Restaurant, retail, office, residential.

• Rents: $10.50 to $12.95 annually per square foot.

• History: Burke family operated general store in the 1905 structure and lived in adjacent house. Corner building most recently housed an auto parts store and the house served as office space.

• Phone: 703-201-6151.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Taking a risk in one of Virginia’s most depressed cities, the Bealeton entrepreneur transformed a half-million square feet of old factories and warehouses into cool offices, shops and loft dwellings.

But, with Danville steadily rebounding from the demise of textiles and tobacco, Jim Cheatham recently has focused on a much smaller project in Fauquier.

Mr. Cheatham so far has spent about $100,000 on exterior renovations of the old Bealeton General Store and an adjacent house in the community where he lives.

The pale green buildings stand on an acre at Remington and Schoolhouse roads, in the heart of the original village. Four-lane Route 17 and the Bealeton boom long ago swallowed the crossroads, across the railroad tracks from Lane Metal.

Remington Professional Buildings LLC, Mr. Cheatham’s company, bought the circa 1905 structures a decade ago. He also purchased and renovated four buildings in downtown Remington after selling a Northern Virginia millwork company that he had owned for two decades.

“So, I’d always had my hand in the building business,” the 66-year-old Richmond native said. “And, I love old buildings that have stood the test of time.”

But, with the economic downturn and his five buildings in Danville, Mr. Cheatham let the smaller Bealeton project stand idle until recently.

Along with siding repair and new paint, he has installed an 18-space paved parking lot, walkways, landscaping and lighting.

The interior of the old store right on the corner remains somewhat a blank canvas, with intricately-patterned wainscoting downstairs. The two-story, 3,800-square-foot structure most recently housed an auto parts store.

“We’ve had people who’ve contacted us about a restaurant/café and an eye doctor’s office,” Mr. Cheatham said.

He could divide the building for two or more tenants.

Originally a single-family home, the adjacent structure most recently served as a small office building with several tenants. A day care center operator inquired about leasing it, but the steps fail to meet building code requirements for that use, the owner said.

The property could provide a live-work arrangement for a business owner leasing the former store for commercial use and the Victorian house as a residence, Mr. Cheatham suggested.

All the property has commercial zoning, and the old store could accommodate a 36-seat restaurant, he said.

The rents will range from $10.50 to $12.95 per square foot annually, depending on configuration.

“Final build-out will be determined by the new tenants’ needs,” Mr. Cheatham said.

But, ongoing renovations will add three bathrooms and two utility rooms to the old store.

With less expensive rents and a quieter location than the nearby shopping centers, the buildings will appeal to “mom and pop” businesses, the owner said.

“We know there’s a lot going on in Bealeton with the new shopping center and the new housing” at Mintbrook, he added. “It seems like the county is focusing on business growth.

“It has become apparent that we have to focus on build-out of the service districts that are here already.”

Mr. Cheatham admitted it might seem ironic that his large projects in economically-depressed Danville moved more quickly than a relatively small venture in Fauquier, at the edge of the nation’s wealthiest metropolitan region.

“It’s a beautiful project,” said Carl Faller, a lifelong Fauquier resident and Realtor, who grew up just down the road from Mr. Cheatham’s buildings. “He’s done a wonderful job. I just hope he can get some tenants in there.”

Mr. Faller agrees with Mr. Cheatham that Fauquier missed a great opportunity when the board of supervisors more than a decade ago rejected the idea of a Virginia Railway Express station in Bealeton.

But, Mr. Cheatham said, “Bealeton is growing. So we think this is a good time for our project.”

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