For sale: TFI showroom

TFI's presence in the Chair City will all but vanish
Feb. 18, 2013 @ 06:17 PM

Thomasville Furniture Industries is selling its showroom on East Main Street.
TFI, a company that has spent more than 100 years in the Chair City, listed its former headquarters with Cassidy Turley Commercial Real Estate Services in Charlotte for $2.25 million. Built in 1958, the 225,000-square-foot facility sits on 7.24 acres and once was home to hundreds of jobs.
According to City Manager Kelly Craver, who walked through the building on Monday, the approximately 50 people who still work there eventually will relocate to a new TFI location on Eastchester Drive in High Point. Aside from a few warehouses and one out of eight original plants, TFI's presence in the Chair City will all but vanish once the employees officially move.
"It's the last thing anybody wants is the building to be empty," Craver said. "I don't know how long the employees will be in the building but I have spoken with the realtor. There were a whole bunch of cars in the back but they are getting things together to market the building. They will vacate the building at some point in time. It's not empty right now, but it's obviously under-utilized for the square footage. Obviously TFI and Home Brands sees a sunset for the use of that building."
Craver, who toured the plant on city business, said TFI does want to keep its mainframe computer system at the location and lease space from the new owners.
"I will be looking at all possibilities for the city of Thomasville," said Craver, who did not specify what interest the city would have in the property. "It was built as a national headquarters for a major company. Certainly this real estate firm was chosen for their ability to market this building to folks who need this type of facility. It's priced reasonably, especially at $10 a square foot."
Once the showroom is sold, Craver said Plant C and two warehouses on Julian Avenue and Morrison Avenue will be all that's left of TFI in Thomasville. The human resources building on the corner of Second Avenue and East Main Street also is included in the property for sale. 
City Councilman Raleigh York said that while the news of the sale is disappointing, it wasn't a complete surprise. York feels the city's focus now should be moving forward and finding another way to utilize the facility.
"This is something we've seen coming for a long time now," York said. "Most of the plants went first and now the management is going to be gone. It's like everything else, when businesses move out, you hate to see them do it. We're just going to keep working as hard as we can to find new businesses to come here and use these properties that are not being utilized." 
York said the challenge is finding a business big enough that would need a facility as spacious as the showroom. York did not rule out the possibility of the city purchasing the property and turning it into a new police station.
"I don't know that we would, but that option and maybe some others should be on the table," said York. "We'll see if there would any possibilities there for something like that or some other use for us. It's a massive building and could have a lot of possibilities for different things. At this point, we have to look forward, not back."
The building has five levels and 300 parking spaces.
    

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.