The Schy’s the Limit

The Schy’s the Limit

By Laurie Teter

As a recent graduate of Lafayette College, 24-year-old Jonathan Davis established Schy-Rhys (pronounced Sky Rise) Redevelopment, Inc. in 1993 with his business partner, Greg Schuyler to purchase the property at 11 Centre Square in Easton. The run-down restaurant, former home to Charlie’s Bar (and before that the Manhattan Club for many years) also housed apartments on the second floor, all in various stages of disrepair.

Seeing potential in the building and the City, the enthusiastic partners were handy and undertook the majority of the renovations themselves. Schuyler and Davis did everything from sanding hardwood floors to repairing caved-in ceilings to digging out the dirt basement by hand to make room for beer coolers. Once the apartments were rented, Schy-Rhys turned its full attention to the restaurant, which opened in 1994 and remains one of the staples of downtown Easton today:  Pearly Baker’s Ale House.

The developers’ initial motivation was the real estate aspect of the project, but they quickly fell in love with the restaurant side of the business.  Schy-Rhys got into the real estate game to build equity and long-term value. “It’s a patient man’s game,” explains Davis. “Restaurants can provide regular income but also run the risk of falling out of favor, which is why we always consider the real estate parcel… hopefully providing long term security.”  In the case of Pearly Baker’s, both the restaurant and the real estate turned out to be successful ventures.

“Repurposing two landmark buildings that have been empty for some time and giving them new life for years to come is really rewarding.”

As they were finishing up their first project, news that Crayola and City Hall were coming downtown solidified Schy-Rhys’ sense that the landscape of downtown Easton was about to change. The search for their next acquisition was a short one. Just a few blocks from Pearly Bakers’ stood an abandoned, boarded-up property that was a known haven for area drug users.  But, the property fit into Schy-Rhys’ early informal model:  good location, in this case across from the Easton Parking Garage, and one of the worst buildings on the block that no one else wanted. Sold! Today that parcel is a picturesque walkway on Bank Street and home to School of Rock and Bank Street Creamery (formerly the Purple Cow Creamery).

Staying focused on the area between 2nd and 5th Streets, Schy-Rhys next set its site on the former Easton National Bank building on Northampton Street, which it purchased with a shoestring budget. At this point, Schuyler and Davis were putting the finishing touches on Pearly Baker’s and working on the Bank Street property and, admits Davis, “We were in way over our heads.”

The budding entrepreneurs remained focused and determined and, after carefully restoring and renovating the bank, opened the Bank Street Annex in 1998. Bank Street Annex is a unique reception venue where many of the original features of the bank are still apparent, including the vault, teller windows and the hand-crafted 40 foot ceiling. Schy-Rhys continues to own and operate the property today.

By this time others in town were starting to notice Schy-Rhys’ work. Not only their personal effort of renovating dilapidated buildings but also the impact their labor was having on bringing new businesses and residents to Easton. As new retail spaces were created, businesses were sprouting up and by the late-1990s Easton was starting to buzz.

Schy-Rhys began tackling the housing market in an effort to draw residents downtown, convinced this was a necessary component to sustain all of the new businesses, including their own. In 2002 the now-established developers acquired the abandoned Moose Lodge, situated in a quiet residential neighborhood on S. Fourth Street, and began rehabilitating the building into 18 townhouse-style apartments. The apartments, which Davis describes as “upscale, but not over the top,” were quickly rented and momentum was building in Easton. People with disposable income were starting to live, work, dine and shop downtown which instilled confidence in other investors and consumers. The residents wanted amenities nearby and the retailers wanted the residents – as a result, a whole new marketplace was emerging.

Forging ahead with the residential market, Schy-Rhys purchased the Eagle Building, former home to Eagle Shoes, next to the State Theatre. Long-abandoned, the roof had a 4-foot hole in it, rain damage had rotted most of the interior and the police had to sweep the building to remove a homeless contingent who had taken up residence in the dilapidated structure. In addition to apartments, that building is now the new home to Re:Find (formerly Home and Planet), which recently relocated from Bethlehem.

Renovation of two iconic downtown buildings, A&D Tile and WEST radio station is Schy-Rhys’ current project. The two properties, along with an adjacent third parcel, are being converted to 24 apartments and 2 retail spaces. “This is an exciting project for us,” says Davis. “Repurposing two landmark buildings that have been empty for some time and giving them new life for years to come is really rewarding.” This project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2014.

Maybe not the biggest player in town, Schy-Rhys is certainly one of the pioneers of the evolution of Easton. Pearly Baker’s was one of the first restaurants in town and Schuyler and Davis were one of the first developers to start buying and renovating apartments. The partners, now in business for nearly 20 years, still own 11 properties downtown and continue to own and run Pearly Baker’s Ale House and Bank Street Annex. Larger projects are mounting in Easton with backing from larger investors and developers, but there are still some smaller projects out there.  “If the right opportunity arises, we’ll jump on it,” says Davis.

In the meantime, Schy-Rhys will remain an active advocate for the City of Easton. Although there are more people and more retail outlets than ever, Davis and Schuyler recognize that can quickly change so they will keep working to ensure the momentum in downtown keeps moving forward.

As a recent graduate of Lafayette College, 24-year-old Jonathan Davis established Schy-Rhys (pronounced Sky Rise) Redevelopment, Inc. in 1993 with his business partner, Greg Schuyler to purchase the property at 11 Centre Square in Easton. The run-down restaurant, former home to Charlie’s Bar (and before that the Manhattan Club for many years) also housed apartments on the second floor, all in various stages of disrepair.

Seeing potential in the building and the City, the enthusiastic partners were handy and undertook the majority of the renovations themselves. Schuyler and Davis did everything from sanding hardwood floors to repairing caved-in ceilings to digging out the dirt basement by hand to make room for beer coolers. Once the apartments were rented, Schy-Rhys turned its full attention to the restaurant, which opened in 1994 and remains one of the staples of downtown Easton today:  Pearly Baker’s Ale House.

The developers’ initial motivation was the real estate aspect of the project, but they quickly fell in love with the restaurant side of the business.  Schy-Rhys got into the real estate game to build equity and long-term value. “It’s a patient man’s game,” explains Davis. “Restaurants can provide regular income but also run the risk of falling out of favor, which is why we always consider the real estate parcel… hopefully providing long term security.”  In the case of Pearly Baker’s, both the restaurant and the real estate turned out to be successful ventures.

As they were finishing up their first project, news that Crayola and City Hall were coming downtown solidified Schy-Rhys’ sense that the landscape of downtown Easton was about to change. The search for their next acquisition was a short one. Just a few blocks from Pearly Bakers’ stood an abandoned, boarded-up property that was a known haven for area drug users.  But, the property fit into Schy-Rhys’ early informal model:  good location, in this case across from the Easton Parking Garage, and one of the worst buildings on the block that no one else wanted. Sold! Today that parcel is a picturesque walkway on Bank Street and home to School of Rock and Bank Street Creamery (formerly the Purple Cow Creamery).

Staying focused on the area between 2nd and 5th Streets, Schy-Rhys next set its site on the former Easton National Bank building on Northampton Street, which it purchased with a shoestring budget. At this point, Schuyler and Davis were putting the finishing touches on Pearly Baker’s and working on the Bank Street property and, admits Davis, “We were in way over our heads.”

The budding entrepreneurs remained focused and determined and, after carefully restoring and renovating the bank, opened the Bank Street Annex in 1998. Bank Street Annex is a unique reception venue where many of the original features of the bank are still apparent, including the vault, teller windows and the hand-crafted 40 foot ceiling. Schy-Rhys continues to own and operate the property today.

Long-abandoned, the roof had a 4-foot hole in it, rain damage had rotted most of the interior and the police had to sweep the building to remove a homeless contingent who had taken up residence in the dilapidated structure.

By this time others in town were starting to notice Schy-Rhys’ work. Not only their personal effort of renovating dilapidated buildings but also the impact their labor was having on bringing new businesses and residents to Easton. As new retail spaces were created, businesses were sprouting up and by the late-1990s Easton was starting to buzz.

Schy-Rhys began tackling the housing market in an effort to draw residents downtown, convinced this was a necessary component to sustain all of the new businesses, including their own. In 2002 the now-established developers acquired the abandoned Moose Lodge, situated in a quiet residential neighborhood on S. Fourth Street, and began rehabilitating the building into 18 townhouse-style apartments. The apartments, which Davis describes as “upscale, but not over the top,” were quickly rented and momentum was building in Easton. People with disposable income were starting to live, work, dine and shop downtown which instilled confidence in other investors and consumers. The residents wanted amenities nearby and the retailers wanted the residents – as a result, a whole new marketplace was emerging.

Forging ahead with the residential market, Schy-Rhys purchased the Eagle Building, former home to Eagle Shoes, next to the State Theatre. Long-abandoned, the roof had a 4-foot hole in it, rain damage had rotted most of the interior and the police had to sweep the building to remove a homeless contingent who had taken up residence in the dilapidated structure. In addition to apartments, that building is now the new home to Re:Find (formerly Home and Planet), which recently relocated from Bethlehem.

Renovation of two iconic downtown buildings, A&D Tile and WEST radio station is Schy-Rhys’ current project. The two properties, along with an adjacent third parcel, are being converted to 24 apartments and 2 retail spaces. “This is an exciting project for us,” says Davis. “Repurposing two landmark buildings that have been empty for some time and giving them new life for years to come is really rewarding.” This project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2014.

Maybe not the biggest player in town, Schy-Rhys is certainly one of the pioneers of the evolution of Easton. Pearly Baker’s was one of the first restaurants in town and Schuyler and Davis were one of the first developers to start buying and renovating apartments. The partners, now in business for nearly 20 years, still own 11 properties downtown and continue to own and run Pearly Baker’s Ale House and Bank Street Annex. Larger projects are mounting in Easton with backing from larger investors and developers, but there are still some smaller projects out there.  “If the right opportunity arises, we’ll jump on it,” says Davis.

In the meantime, Schy-Rhys will remain an active advocate for the City of Easton. Although there are more people and more retail outlets than ever, Davis and Schuyler recognize that can quickly change so they will keep working to ensure the momentum in downtown keeps moving forward.

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