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Happy Jacks Owner Helps Reshape Bolton’s Main Street

By Anthony F. Hall

Saturday, July 25, 2015

House Bolton Landing’s quirkiest shop in its most conservative building? Perhaps that makes sense only to Happy Jack’s owner Jeff Strief, whose success is built upon doing what no one else has thought to do.

Strief will demolish the building that he owns at the intersection of Main Street and Stewart Avenue this fall and replace it with a three-story, multi-purpose building that evokes the functional commercial buildings of 19th century Main Streets.

“I’m interested in contributing to the vitality of our Main Street: architecturally, commercially and, by providing apartments so that people can both live and work in Bolton Landing, socially,” said Strief.

Since Strief created Happy Jack’s ten years ago, he has moved the shop three times, always in search of more space.

“Now we’ve outgrown this space, and I need even more space to expand our clothing and footwear business. So I had no choice but to create a bigger building,” Strief said.

Moreover, he added, “I don’t think my building is the most attractive in Bolton Landing, and I’d like it to be dramatically improved.”

 

Architectural renderings courtesy of JMZ Architects and Planners P. C.

Strief envisioned a late 19th century commercial building for his shop because, he said, “that kind of architecture corresponds to how people think about Bolton Landing and how they use it: strolling down Main Street, dining and shopping. It has a traditional, small town, pedestrian-friendly feeling to it, but the architecture doesn’t always support that feeling.”

While towns such as Ticonderoga, Crown Point and Keeseville may have retained that style of architecture in their commercial districts, “they don’t have the economy to support it; many of those traditional storefronts are vacant,” says Strief. “Bolton Landing, on the other hand, has the economy to support a traditional Main Street, but we don’t have the architecture.”

With these thoughts in mind, Strief approached Glens Falls-based JMZ Architects, which is led by Bolton resident Tenee Rehm Casaccio.

“I’m pleased with what the architects at JMZ came up with. They understand what upstate New York, Main Street buildings should like,” said Strief.

The 7,000 square foot building will consist of retail space for Happy Jacks and Happy Jack Kids on the first floor, four apartments on the second floor and two apartments on a third floor.

“The apartments on the third floor are stepped back, so they won’t be visible from the street or sidewalk. From that vantage point, the building will look like a two-story building,” said Strief.

Strief said he was not fazed by the prospect of investing more than one million dollars in Bolton Landing commercial real estate.

“Happy Jack’s has been successful, growing every year, and I expect it to continue to grow. As long as Bolton Landing remains a popular summer destination, there’s no reason why it won’t,” said Strief.  “So it’s a sound investment. But it’s also an investment in my community that I’m excited I’m able to make.”

Strief said he expects his shops to open in the new building next spring. The apartments will be ready for occupancy by early summer.

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