Almost two and a half years after an arson fire heavily damaged Meada’s Plaza, the building’s facade has been restored and there are new signs of life thanks to the preparation of the first floor for a convenience store.
There are four 600 square feet commercial spaces in the building, and the convenience store will occupy the two spaces on the first floor.
The store may be ready to open sometime in March, according to property manager Larry Landis, who did not reveal the owner of the newstore.
Meada’s Plaza, owned by St. Johnian Myrah Keating Smith, was set afire in the early morning hours of September 2, 2005, following community outrage over an alleged hate crime committed against Esther Frett. Bob Sells, owner of Close Reach Imports which was gutted in the fire, was in conflict with Frett, who also owned a business in the building.
While no charges were filed in the alleged kidnapping and rape of Frett, Sells was convicted of aggravated assault and battery and racial intimidation stemming from a separate incident with the woman in June 2005. No arrests were ever made in the arson case.