Businesses leave Pine Mountain Village after rent increase, new lease stipulations

Thursday, August 2, 2018

At least four businesses are leaving Pine Mountain Village after the owners raised the rent and added additional stipulations to the lease.

Grandma’s Beans and Cornbread, a longtime Eureka Springs restaurant, has already closed and moved out of Pine Mountain Village. Hardcastle Antiques, Planet Leather and the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce are also leaving the complex, interim chamber director Damon Henke said.

Vicki Hardcastle, the owner of Hardcastle Antiques, will have to close her storefront after she moves the business out of Pine Mountain Village, she said. She will instead return to working craft shows and private events after leasing her building in Pine Mountain Village for about a year.

Hardcastle said the rent increase was a problem, but she especially couldn’t accept the add-ons to the lease, which made her liable for the parking lot and responsible for making repairs to damages to the inside and outside of the building.

“As a small business, I could not take on the liability they wanted us to take on,” Hardcastle said.

Hardcastle said the Johnson family, which owns Pine Mountain Village and Pig Trail Harley Davidson, refused to meet with the shop owners about the new additions to the lease. The Johnsons declined to comment for this story.

Paul Johnson bought Pine Mountain Village about three years ago for $1.1 million. Henke said the Johnsons are trying to draw renewed interest to Pine Mountain Village and have big plans for the area.

“The building owners in this town are the ones making money,” Hardcastle said.

The chamber was considering moving to a smaller location before the Johnsons raised the rent at Pine Mountain Village, Henke said. When the rent increased, he said, it made even more sense to find another building. The chamber’s Pine Mountain Village location is about 4,000 square feet, and the members would like something about half that size. The chamber will move by Sept. 1.

Henke said the chamber will reopen the Eureka Springs Visitors Center at its new location.

“The visitor center should go basically uninterrupted,” Henke said.

Troy Johnson, the owner of Fresh Harvest, has run his business at Pine Mountain Village for six years. Troy Johnson said Fresh Harvest is staying at its location.

“We’re happy here,” Troy Johnson said.

In the six years Troy Johnson has rented at Pine Mountain Village, he said, this is the first rent increase. He said it is very reasonable that the Johnsons decided to increase the rent considering there have been no increases in several years.

“And we plan on staying,” Johnson said.

Mayor Butch Berry said Pine Mountain Village is a great location and has a lot of potential. But when businesses close, there is less tax revenue and therefore less money for the city.

“Anytime businesses are moving out it has a negative impact,” Berry said. “I’m disappointed businesses are moving out rather than moving in.”

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