A couple who recently relocated to Yellow Springs from Florida has bought one of the village’s notable business complexes and has plans to transform it into a “cool, hip” destination while continuing other business and non-profit work in their new home.
Antonio Molina and Jessica Yamamoto in September bought the Millworks business complex for $1.15 million, according to Greene County property records. The four-acre property is where Yellow Springs Brewery and several other businesses are located between Walnut Street and the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail.
Molina, 40, and Yamamoto, 36, said the current tenants will stay through their leases, but he is working with an architect on plans to refurbish the various buildings to “build on what the brewery” has done and connect it with the bike path. They will also continue their work with an organization they founded as an alternative to Boys and Girls Scouts and a group that provides meals for those in need.
Yamamoto said they want to make the Millworks “a really cool, hip place to hang out.”
“In the next few years a lot of major things are going to be happening here that will benefit not only the town but also the surrounding areas,” Yamamoto said.
Molina said one of the challenges in renovations will be utilizing the grassy courtyards that are inside some of the corridors that link the various buildings on the property.
“I love this town. I can’t wait for the future with our family here. It’s already happening,” Molina said.
Karen Wintrow, executive director of the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce, said she expects the new family to be “great assets” for the village.
“As things move along, they’ve got some great ideas,” Wintrow said.
The husband and wife recently bought a home in Yellow Springs, and their 9-year-old twin daughters, Sophia and Jessie, are enrolled at The Antioch School, a private school at which the students create the curriculum and rules with the teachers.
Their business ventures include a pizzeria in Mexico and a hostel in Las Vegas. They’ve traveled as a family on bike across California, where they originally met in elementary school, and in places like Thailand and India.
They said they settled on Yellow Springs through Google searches, looking for bike friendly, “artsy towns” and places that promised good returns on flipping houses.
“We can (flip houses) pretty much anywhere in the country. I think our primary goal was to find somewhere that was a cool, hip place to live … artsy, small and safe,” Yamamoto said. “Yellow Springs kept popping up. Top three on the top 10 list.”
Molina has a background in home renovating and he and his wife acquire homes through their website webuyuglyhouses.com. Molina said they are already fielding calls from people looking to sell in the Dayton area.
“People call us if they are interested in selling us their house. We don’t do cold-calling or anything like that,” she said. “It doesn’t always work out. It has to make sense for everybody but we do help people get out of ugly situations.”
Molina said he’s working to hire people to work on the properties they acquire.
“A lot of times when we’ve traveled I end up working alone or just getting people that don’t have skills just to clean,” he said, “but here since we’re setting up a permanent shop, I need a crew. That’s really the hardest part about my job is finding the right people.”
Molina and Yamamoto also started a nonprofit organization, Kids Scouts Inc., which is a gender-neutral, wider age-range alternative to traditional scouting programs.
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Yamamoto said Kids Scouts is focused on community service and giving children younger than 12 volunteer opportunities. She said they are teamed with Hunger Van, a national campaign by Muslims Against Hunger that provides meals for local food pantries and feeds people impacted by natural disasters and emergencies.
“What we’re doing in 2019 is we’re bringing Kids Scouts and Hunger Van together,” she said. “We’re hoping to have a headquarters here in Yellow Springs.”