Building Buy Signals More Change for White River Junction

Valley News Business Reporter
Saturday, October 06, 2018

White River Junction — The renaissance of downtown White River Junction looks poised to move across the White River and stake its first claim on Bridge Street.

Upper Valley real estate developer Mike Davidson has struck a deal to acquire the two former Kibby Equipment buildings across from Hartford Town Hall and rehab them into space for new tenants.

The side-by-side buildings have been vacant since owners Phyllis and William Shambo retired and closed Kibby Equipment last year after six decades in business.

The twin buildings are among the first structures people see on the right when entering Vermont by passing over Lyman Bridge into White River Junction from West Lebanon.

“The initial interest has been (coming from) restaurant and performing arts, but our minds are truly open,” Ledgeworks General Manager Tim Sidore said via email. “Mike and I are committed to introducing a diverse mix of businesses and housing opportunities to our downtown communities.”

Davidson, a longtime Upper Valley landlord who in recent years has turned to redeveloping landmark properties, previously converted the former Lebanon Junior High School and the College Cleaners building in White River Junction into trendy residential complexes.

His most recent projects include acquiring and rehabbing the former Polka Dot diner (which is soon to open as Phnom Penh Sandwich Station) in White River Junction and converting the former Roy’s Gulf Station on Colburn Park in Lebanon into the cafe Lucky’s Coffee Garage.

Lebanon Cabinetry Contractor to Close

After 10 years of designing and installing kitchen cabinetry, countertops and baths, Ro Wyman is closing Cabinetry Concepts and Surface Solutions, located on Miracle Mile in Lebanon.

“My lease is up in January and I had to make a decision if I was going to continue working for another five years and bottom line is I decided, no, I’ve been essentially working 50 years of my life and now it’s time to play,” Wyman said in an interview.

Wyman and her husband, management consultant Bill Wyman, moved to the Upper Valley from New York more than two decades ago, first settling in Quechee before moving to Hanover.

Ro Wyman, a Chicago native and former manager with Booz-Allen-Hamilton and Chemical Bank, founded Wyman Ventures in 2004 to renovate and sell old homes and then applied her building trade skills to kitchen and bath design by opening Cabinetry Concepts and Surface Solution in 2009.

Wyman estimated she’s designed and overseen the installation of “hundreds” of kitchens, pantries, baths, mudrooms and laundry rooms over the past 10 years. But the business has become more challenging in recent years as the number of qualified contractors who handle smaller-scale custom work has declined since the recession and online retailers, especially when it comes to tiles and fixtures, have undercut showroom sales.

Those factors add up to making it difficult to find someone who would want to acquire the business, Wyman explained.

“In the Upper Valley there is a scarcity of excellent designers. It’s a small pool and they keep moving around. Most would probably say that they like to do design work but all the other areas of running a business are not attractive,” she said.

But for homeowners who have put off buying the cabinets, countertops and fixtures to redesign a kitchen or bath, now might be a good time to do it: Wyman is having a showroom and clearance sale through the end of the month.

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News items of interest to the local business community are published in the Business & Money section of the Sunday Valley News. Submissions may be sent by email to: biznotes@vnews.com (high-resolution photographs may be attached in .jpg format). Items are edited for clarity and space.