It’s certainly not unusual for a Realtor or agent to list a property, show it to prospective buyers, and then end up buying it for one reason or another. When it comes to the limited amount of commercial property in Three Rivers, it may happen more frequently on a per capita basis than in larger, urban markets.
One commercial transaction of this scenario occurred a few years back when Greg Lockhart, owner of Sequoia Pacific Realty, listed Totem Market and Gifts and began looking for a buyer. The more he delved into the nuances of the property, the more he imagined its potential.
In the three-plus years since Greg Lockhart purchased the Totem, it has undergone a complete transformation and is today an inviting hangout.
Diana and Larry Jules, the new owners of Barby’s, the old, wood storefront on Sierra Drive between The Kaweah Commonwealth building and the former Noisy Water Restaurant, are also tackling a commercial challenge head-on.
Currently, they are facing extensive cleanup and upgrades to the building. And then they’ll search for a suitable commercial business or businesses that could successfully operate on the riverfront property.
Larry, 65, is a veteran builder and has enjoyed plenty of success during a 40-year career in Three Rivers. He knows what it will take and also what it will cost.
“This is my baby, sort of my dream project,” said Diana Jules, a longtime Sierra Real Estate agent. “I had a couple of offers from clients who wanted to turn this prime commercial location into another Airbnb. I couldn’t let that happen.”
Diana and Larry Jules aren’t against vacation rentals. In fact, they own and operate The River Jewel, a local riverside vacation rental. But Diana appreciates the importance of preserving other commercial uses along Sierra Drive.
For more than 40 years, Barby’s was operated by Wayne Van Dellen of Elderwood. Wayne, a former Marine and sub-three-hour marathoner who participated in the 1964 Olympic trials and missed a berth by two spots, was a fixture of the Three Rivers business community. Wayne closed the store in November 2016 due to health issues.
The Barby’s property was owned for the past year by a Visalia pastor who decided to sell it recently. Diana said that buying Barby’s, the former lunch counter and antique shop, was a way she could give something back as a real estate agent.
“We are blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to beautify this space,” said Diana.