FRANKFORT, Ind. (WLFI) – For nearly 100 years, the Frankfort Cigar Factory was a staple in the community.
The gorgeous red brick building was one of only three domestic cigar factories left in the United States.
But after increased taxes and regulations forced the factory to close its doors in May of 2015, local resident Crystal Reichert and her husband were not about to let the building sit empty for long.
“It’s been in the community for so long and most old buildings or factories will close,” said Reichert. “No one buys them and it sits empty for like 30 or 50 years, and then it’s falling apart and they have to tear it down.”
Reichert isn’t going to let that happen. She and her husband Chris bought the building and for the past month, they have been renovating it to prepare the structure for public use.
“Initially, we are working on the main floor,” she said. “We are hoping for retail shops in the offices, and we are hoping to subdivide this into a market like place with handcrafted goods and items.”
Reichert says the name of the building helps keep the history alive.
“We’ve rebranded the building,” explained Reichert. “If you see out front on the floor, it says Bankable and that was one of their original cigar brands.”
Reichert hopes to have the first floor of the building up and running by the end of July, but the massive three-story building has tons of potential and Reichert has endless ideas.
“We are hoping to get investors or even a startup tech group for the second floor, and then maybe the third level maybe having events like concerts, possibly weddings,” she explained.
Reichert grew up in Frankfort and knows how important it is to keep historical buildings here in the city.
Something Mayor McBarnes also holds with an equal interest.
“Downtown revitalization’s very important to our community. It is something we have stressed, it’s something we’ve emphasized,” explained McBarnes. “Private individuals are stepping up to the plate, and they are making investments to help make this community a better place.”
Mayor McBarnes and Reichert both have one goal — make Frankfort a better place for everyone.
“Family focused and having this as a destination for people not just in our community but surrounding communities because that’s what Frankfort needs — more people coming here,” explained Reichert.
McBarnes said, “I would challenge people to come visit Frankfort now and come back and see us in July for the Hot Dog Festival, and you’ll already be seeing those improvements happen.”
A business open house will be held Saturday, June 4 for anyone interested in renting space in the building.
You can find all of their contacts and additional information on its website.
Reichert says they are willing to work with anyone’s budget and look forward to getting people in the building as quickly as possible.