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Summerhill on Second soon to open in Armory Square

Summerhill Farm owners Jeff and Eileen Reish and son Sam plan to open Summerhill on Second the first week of May. Alan Zemek, right, of Echopoint Design and Development, LLC, is the building's developer. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

After a "great response last fall" Summerhill Farm is returning to downtown Park Rapids.

Park Rapids developer Alan Zemek and Jeff and Eileen Reish, owners of Summerhill Farm, announce a new year-round women's clothing and accessories store will open at the Armory Square redevelopment project on Second Street.

Summerhill on Second, a 1,500-square-foot store, is scheduled to open the first week of May.

The merchandise will be unique to the downtown store, Eileen Reish explained of the "similar but not duplicated" line of apparel found at the Highway 71 north location. "Same customer niche but expanded selection."

Customer response to their brief tenure at the former Merry Bees led to the decision, she said. "We were waiting for the right place. The armory is a great community space. We feel it fits in with our brands" of clothing, gifts and home accessories.

"It's been fun working with Alan," she said. "I think this will be good for the town."

"After nearly 20 years of vacancy, the old armory building will be returning to life," Zemek said in announcing the "rebirth of this historic landmark building in downtown Park Rapids."

Eileen and Jeff Reish purchased Summerhill Farm in 2003.  They opened Summerhill on Main last fall on a temporary basis.

Armory Square is being redeveloped to become an integrated mixed use commercial and civic facility, Zemek said. "We hope to restore the armory to what it once was, a center for community activities, education, arts and cultural expression for the community of Park Rapids.

"Although we are the primary developer for reuse of this historic site, this project has been and will continue to be very much a community based effort," Zemek said

The Park Rapids Armory, originally constructed in 1928, served the National Guard as an armory, training and maintenance facility for more than 60 years.

An addition was added in 1941 as a Works Projects Administration project to house vehicles for a mechanized infantry unit. While it was in operation, the armory also served the community as overflow classrooms for the bourgeoning middle school, hosted athletic competitions and a wide variety of community events.

The armory was closed in 1992 as part of a statewide consolidation of Guard units, and has remained vacant for the last 19 years.

The redevelopment project is expected to create 12 to 22 full-time and seasonal jobs and contribute to the fulfillment of the 2008 Park Rapids' down town revitalization plan.

Summerhill on Second will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week in the summer. The site is handicapped accessible.