East State Street Property Could Change Hands

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A sizable chunk of property in the East State Street business district could be changing ownership, though the deals are not yet done.

Mark Porter, of Mark Porter Autoplex on East State Street, said that “hopefully by the end of the year” he will have purchased the property where his used car dealership is located. It is currently owned by Don Gribble.

Included in the purchase would be the building on the opposite side of Avon Place. Porter said at least the vacant front part, or possibly all, of the building would be demolished after he acquires it. The plan is to put used car inventory on the property once the demolition is done.

Currently his detailing shop is located in the back of the building.

Porter also has an option to buy the property where the Maplewood Inn, the Buckeye Building (located behind the Maplewood) and the New Market are located. Porter would not comment on the likelihood he will exercise that option and buy the property.

The buildings are owned by Amy Hutchinson, who said Porter also has an option on two vacant lots at the site. She said Porter has had an option on the five parcels for several months.

“I’ve had several other offers on it,” she said.

The Maplewood Inn closed recently, and Porter said he had nothing to do with the business owner’s decision to close.

The owner is Michael Hodgson, whom The Messenger could not reach Monday for comment.

Hutchinson said Hodgson told her he did not have enough time to commit to the business.

“He had other irons in the fire,” she said.

Porter said that if he acquires the Hutchinson property, he would have no immediate plans for it. He said the businesses located there could continue to operate, including the Maplewood Inn if it reopens.

Porter and his son, Chane, who is general manager of Mark Porter Autoplex, both said that a goal is to bring a new car dealership to Athens — although they both also said it would not be located on the property that is now under option.

Mark Porter said he is not currently in discussions with a car company about opening a franchise here, but noted that Athens lacks several brands.

He said rumors that he is opening a GM dealership in Athens are not true.

“If we put a new car franchise here, this building (where the Autoplex showroom is located) would come down. We’d put an entirely new building here,” Chane Porter said.

However, Mark Porter said the immediate plan is to remodel the showroom.