Original article on Sun Journal: http://www.newbernsj.com/article/20150716/NEWS/150719168/0/SEARCH
By Sandy Wall
Posted Jul. 16, 2015 at 3:36 PM
A New Bern husband and wife are transforming a former retail store in the Five Points area into what they call a “positive space” where community members can make pottery, take yoga and wellness classes or just drop in and visit with their neighbors.
Alex and Robin Frelier say their vision is to create the “Five Points Center,” which will be an arts space where Robin and others can work on pottery and teach classes, where Alex and Robin can have yoga and Pilates classes, and where artists and neighbors can come together and be comfortable.
The Freliers also say they hope their project will spur other development in Five Points, as well as expand New Bern’s growing reputation as a regional arts center.
“I think people are very excited that something’s going on,” Alex Frelier said during a recent tour of the building, located at 919 Broad St. “It’s been interesting to meet people, to engage with them.”
Work on both the inside and outside of the former Super 10 building, which the Freliers bought in March, is now underway. The 70-year-old structure, which housed various grocery stores during its history, has new wiring, new heating/AC units and new restrooms under construction.
The 10,360-square-foot building’s exterior is being painted light green, and a new awning soon will be installed.
The Freliers are hoping to open the center in September.
“It’s a lot of work, but we really found a lot of support,” Alex Frelier said.
The Freliers moved to New Bern in September 2013 from Charlotte. Alex, who is originally from Argentina, works as a business consultant, while Robin, who is an Indiana native, is a flight attendant based out of Raleigh.
They said they were drawn to New Bern by the town’s charm and its combination of history, water access and a thriving arts community.
“We kinda fell in love with the town,” Alex Frelier said.
The couple bought a house on Johnson Street in the historic district, and Alex set up his office in a house in the Five Points area.
“I spent a year observing the area,” he said. “I really felt comfortable.”
The Freliers wanted to set up a space for a pottery studio for Robin, who loves working with clay and also teaches pottery classes. But such spaces require a lot of room for students, equipment and supplies, which made an in-home studio impractical.
Alex, meanwhile, enjoys yoga and wanted a space where he could engage in that.
The couple came across the old Super 10 store and thought it would work for both their interests.
“We have the jobs that we do and then we have the things that we love to do,” Alex Frelier said. “The more time we spent here, the more we saw the possibilities.”
The Freliers say a part of the building has been wired for 16 pottery wheels. Another section will be the wellness area, which will have a special floor to accommodate exercise.
The back of the store is where the kilns will be installed, the supplies will be stored and the restrooms will be. At the front of the store, which features eye-catching slanted windows, there will be a gallery and gathering area.
Robin Frelier said the center will focus on five areas of life — or five points, if you will. They are: arts; community; culture; mindfulness; and well-being.
Alex Frelier said: “We want people to just come and feel comfortable. This is what we can do.”
So is the Five Points Center a sustainable business opportunity or a labor of love? The Freliers say it’s both.
“Right now, it’s a labor of love. It’s a labor of hope,” Alex Frelier said.
Robin Frelier quickly adds: “I would love to think we could cover our expenses. That would be awesome.”
Later, after giving it some thought, Alex Frelier said the project was about creating value for the Five Points area.
“I think in our minds it is an ‘entrepreneurial labor of love,’” he said. “As entrepreneurs, Robin and I expect what we do to prove itself out by creating value, but we chose to take on this particular effort because we love our town and we want to see Five Points active and prosperous once again. We hope our effort is a small step in the right direction.”