A large, white warehouse in Beaufort serves as Richard Martin’s mancave.
Old signs hanging inside the 8,000 square-foot space advertise oil and Angus beef. There are Mazda Miata and Porsche racecars, a raised old Volvo, the shell of a Jeep and numerous dirt bikes.
But soon its contents will have to move. The building holds a prime spot along the Spanish Moss Trail — where Robert Smalls Parkway and Neil Road meet.
The location is why Martin and his wife, Lisa Wandrick, bought the property three years ago and later a house in Beaufort and moved from Atlanta. A new section of the Spanish Moss Trail recently opened, bringing steady traffic past Martin’s door sooner than expected.
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He is working to renovate a portion of the warehouse and wants to begin renting a small inventory of bicycles and selling cold drinks and ice cream.
Wandrick still works for Coca-Cola in Atlanta, and the coolers would likely be stocked with Coke products. Martin hopes for permission to provide outdoor seating and shade trees.
“We think it will make a good stopping point,” he said.
The contents of the building hint at Martin’s passions of racing cars and dirt bikes. He does the mechanical work himself.
He and his wife also operate multiple investment properties and have a history of renovating and selling houses.
The experience is now being poured into a former furniture warehouse.
Twelve-year-old Tucker Martin admitted he originally didn’t think much of the building his parents bought. But now he hopes to gain some business experience helping out around the shop when it opens.
He can easily reach the building on his Trek bicycle, the trip quicker by bike than by car from the family’s home on North Hermitage Road.
And the building is looking better.
Martin and his wife bought the building in 2013 and have had multiple offers to sell, including to an interested fast-food chain, he said. “We’re going to stick to something we think will be cool for Beaufort,” Martin said.
The white paint is being chipped away to reveal a rustic steel look. New framing and drywall are going up inside, and a skylight is being cut into the roof in the front of the building.
Giant sliding doors facing the trail in the middle of the warehouse will be made to look like red barn doors, Richard Martin said. Cinder blocks will be painted to look like red brick.
And the people will come. At least that’s Martin’s expectation from impromptu surveys of trail users, and watching the development of businesses along the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia.
Martin and his wife bought the bank-owned building for $250,000 in 2013 and have had multiple offers to sell, including to an interested fast-food chain, he said.
“We’re going to stick to something we think will be cool for Beaufort,” Martin said.
He has let his imagination wander to future possibilities.
The warehouse could be home to a cafe or an open air market when the large doors are open. There is space nearby Martin thinks is ripe for a microbrewery.
He has eyed other property along the trail — more out of curiosity than with plans to purchase —wondering about possibilities in Port Royal and for a packing shed not far from his building.
The idea of business along the trail has picked up since Beaufort began allowing trail-related uses in the Depot Road area. The city is discussing possible uses for the depot building at the trailhead and has applied for a grant to build restrooms there.
Martin had originally considered leasing part of his space to an established bicycle business, and could still. But he also has a small fleet of bikes and might begin on his own.
“We’re going to have to get the doors open and see where we go,” he said.