A failed development in downtown Verona has resulted in the return of a hardware store and a proposed renovation of a large but vacant retail space.
Dorn True Value Hardware opened a 12,000-square-foot store May 1 in space that had been home to an Ace Hardware store. Next door, the former World of Variety store may be converted to three separate commercial spaces.
According to plans submitted by Dimension IV Design Group of Madison, a new facade and new entrances would be added to the former World of Variety building at 118 S. Main St. The project would include adjustments to make the property more handicap-accessible, add two new entrances to the building and make improvements to landscaping. The proposal, submitted last month, makes no mention of potential tenants.
The World of Variety and the Ace Hardware store closed in 2016 when a developer proposed removing the buildings to construct a mixed-use building with ground floor commercial space and more than 50 apartments. The project, however, stalled after the city asked for design improvements and the developer stopped its plans for the redevelopment.
When Dorn Hardware entered the the former Ace building in March at the corner of Main Street and West Verona Avenue, there was no shelving or fixtures. Just four walls that needed painting and a floor that needed a good cleaning. But eight weeks of work have turned the space into a brightly lit, well-stocked hardware store that includes paint from Benjamin Moore, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, grills, light bulbs, tools and thousands of other items.
"We started from zero," said Olga Fish, manager of the Verona store, who spent years working at Dorn's Midvale Boulevard location. "Our first Saturday, it was crazy."
The store, with 11 employees and 24 aisles, also has a rental center with lawn and garden equipment, power and hand tools, scaffolding and party supplies such as tents, tables and chairs. The grand opening celebration is set for the end of June, Fish said.
"We just had to clean the floors and paint," Fish said. "The building was in pretty good shape."
The opening of the store comes almost three months after Dorn closed its True Value Hardware store at 127 N. Broom St. to make way for the neighboring Capital Centre Market to expand its footprint. Mitch Eveland, who purchased the 11,000-square-foot grocery store in 2007 and in 2014 built a 48,000-square-foot grocery store in Lake Mills, bought the hardware store building Dorn was leasing in January 2017. His project, estimated at about $2 million, is expected to be completed this fall.
But while downtown Madison remains without a hardware store, the arrival of Dorn in Verona fills a void. Jason Shaw, the former manager of the downtown Madison Dorn, now works at the Verona store.
The Dorn name is synonymous with hardware in Dane County. Victor Dorn opened his first store in 1955 on University Avenue in Shorewood Hills, but that store closed in the early 2000s. The family's Monona store closed in 2007, while its 13,000-square-foot store in the Northgate Shopping Center on the city's North Side closed in 2013 after 51 years. The company has its headquarters on the lower level of its store at Midvale Boulevard and the Beltline and has stores in Oregon and Sun Prairie.