A tenant’s needs and a landlord’s wish list line up in O’Fallon
225 South Main Street, O’Fallon, Mo. 63366
Amy Buie always thought she understood child behavior. Afterall, she was a board-certified behavior analyst. She worked with children with autism who had severe behavioral issues. When she went grocery shopping and saw other kids on the ground, throwing dramatic public outbursts in the aisle, she just shook her head. She was sure it was a failure of parenting—one that she would be sure to avoid when she eventually decided to have children of her own.
Then in 1997, she gave birth to her first child, a son—and everything she thought she knew about behavior changed forever.
The child was born eight weeks early with a brain bleed, and from the earliest stages of his development, she and her husband noticed a sort of rage in the child. By the time he was a toddler, the boy’s meltdowns had left holes in the drywall of their house. Buie tried to lean on her expertise, tried to “wave her behavior analyst wand,” but it was no use.
“I was so embarrassed everywhere we went,” Buie writes on her website. “The tantrums in the grocery store were now MY kid that everyone was staring at. I knew what they were thinking: She is a bad parent. I knew it because it was what I used to think.”
Throughout the rest of her career, Buie not only drew on her professional expertise to raise her son, but she also used her parenting experience to inform her work. She co-wrote a program called Rage to Reason, that is designed to reduce explosive behaviors and teach coping skills. And she opened Thriveley Consultation, which teaches professionals how to reduce meltdowns and instill coping skills in children who exhibit explosive behaviors.
But for years, Buie travelled around the region, mainly in the St. Louis metro area, renting conference rooms in hotels so she could set up pop-up seminars and workshops for area educators, parents, caregivers, and therapists. Rather than packing herself, her materials, and her clients all over the place, she was looking for a base for Thriveley—a permanent brick-and-mortar close to her own home near O’Fallon, Mo.
Fortunately, she met Frank Yocum and Jake Shepley a broker with Hilliker Corporation, who happened to know of an austere commercial space on O’Fallon’s historic Main Street, that was looking for a tenant.
“Everybody’s got their reasons.”
The last time ownership of the colonial brick three-story at 225 South Main Street in downtown O’Fallon changed hands, the year was 1985. Then there were four new owners, including the engineer who designed the building. But over the years, half of the ownership group moved on, leaving only Robert Wohler, Attorney at Law, and Dr. Terry Blake, DDS—both of whom have maintained offices there ever since.
“Dr. Blake and I are hoping we have about three years left before our wives want us to retire,” says Wohler, jokingly. “But seriously, we intend to stay here because we like what we do. And the building is in good shape. It was well constructed by a guy who took pride in doing things that last.”
Over 35 years, Wohler and Blake have invested themselves and their capital in maintaining the stately, ivy-covered building, including replacing the roof in 2018. They’ve also welcomed a wide array of tenants, from lawyers to engineers to a dance studio that operates in the evenings, so the music and pitter patter of dance shoes doesn’t overlap with the business day. For the most part, they’ve always sought to avoid any type of retail and limit occupants to those who would maintain the building’s professional image.
“We don’t allow billboards or tacky signs,” says Wohler.
That mandate has always worked fine in filling the smaller first-floor suites with lawyers, accountants, doctors, engineers, and more lawyers. But the finding a fit for the larger and more open, 2,950-square-foot space on the second floor, has proven a bit trickier. The floor had been occupied by an engineering firm for a few years, but since they downsized and moved to the basement, Wohler says the area has sat vacant for two or three years. Then came Buie and Thriveley Consultation.
Buie signed a 39-month lease with Wohler and Blake—three months on three suites below while she waits for the larger space to be painted and slightly renovated. Then Thrively will move their offices and teaching and seminar space onto the 2,950-square foot area for at least three years.
The building proved ideally suited to Buie’s need for space and desire for proximity to her O’Fallon home. But there’s another feature to 225 South Main Street that appealed to Buie that wasn’t in the listing. Just north of the building, on the other side of a fence, is a space that was once an appliance store. Fifteen years ago, it was bought and turned into Rendezvous Café and Wine Bar. Last year, the eatery added more outdoor seating right up to the fence.
“It provides an ambience,” says Wohler. “That was one thing that attracted Buie to locate here. Everybody’s got their reasons.”
Finding the right fit
Every prospective tenant has their own unique wish list when looking for a new home for their business. Likewise, every landlord has a general idea of what they are looking for in a tenant. And of course, even in successful leasing arrangements, the ideals of each party don’t always match up perfectly. That’s why it helps to have a broker who takes the time to get to know the needs of both parties involved.
“Frank Yocum from Hilliker does things the way you like for them to be done,” says Wohler. “He’s proactive but incredibly polite. He asks questions, but he never pushes. For instance, he’ll ask: Do we have flexibility here or there? Yes. Would you consider moving your office across the hall? No. After all, Dr. Blake and I aren’t kids anymore.”