Progress continues at northside Mill Race development

Pair of businesses settle in at complex

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
The wheels at the Mill Race Station development on the north end of town are picking up speed as two businesses settle in and apartment complexes entice enough people for a waiting list.
Postal Connections, a mail and shipping service, was the first to open its doors this summer at the new development, which includes apartments and Barsideus Bier Garten, a restaurant featuring its own brewed beer.
For Postal Connections owner Brenda Jungwirth, it was all about location, location, location.
“I recognized there was nothing at this end of town,” she said. “You have to drive all the way through town for stamps, for copies, and to fax. Early on, the development at this end of town was a real attraction for me.”

Brenda Jungwirth cuts the ribbon at her grand opening celebration on Sept. 24. Photos by Sarah Brown

Jungwirth has a diverse background, having worked as a wildland firefighter, and managed multiple projects for the state, as well as owning her own businesses that ranged from a dress boutique to environmental cleanup.
When she was ready to start a new venture, Jungwirth looked at different franchises and found Postal Connections fascinating. Being more than a pack-and-ship store, it allowed her flexibility to do other things, such as sell on eBay for customers, offer “uncommon gifts,” and provide a space for her dream to run a nonprofit teaching etiquette and random acts of kindness to boys.
“We’re happy to be here,” she said. “We think this is going to be a great service at this end of town.”
Location was also an enticing factor to Bill Bartman, co-owner of Barsideus Bier Garten, who opened his restaurant on Oct. 14.
Mill Race Station development owner Larry Spires had researched what kind of businesses would succeed at the north end of town and approached Barsideus with an invitation, according to Bartman. Apparently, the college students living in the area wanted a brewpub nearby.
“So we thought if it’s in the cards and we play our cards right, maybe this could be a great little expansion for us,” Bartman said.

Patrons get a sneak peek at Barsideus Bier Garten during its soft opening on Oct. 13.

Barsideus Brewing opened its brewery and brewpub downtown next to the Kuhn Theatre in 2017. The building has its own history, being the original Empire Theater dating back to the early 1900s, along with rumors of being haunted.
Expanding a restaurant on the north end of town provided Barsideus an opportunity for outdoor seating with fire pits, as well as serving liquor, Bartman noted.
“It just seemed like a really great opportunity to kind of broaden our base without eroding the traffic we currently get at the pub,” he said.
Larry’s wife, Nikki, also noted that Barsideus has its eyes on the ample parking space and open fields for a possible car show some day.
Plans for development of the Mill Race land began in 2015. Property owners Larry and Nikki Spires broke ground in 2017 by installing streets and a sewer system.
The first establishment to be constructed was Mill Race Storage in 2019. Next was the mixed-use building that houses Postal Connections and Barsideus. Construction for that building was completed this year. Two more retail spaces are available on the first floor, but the one ADA-compliant downstairs apartment and eight upstairs units are already filled.
Also completed this year was an 18-unit apartment complex that is already full, with a second complex expected to be complete in December. Those already have a waiting list, Nikki Spires said. A third complex will follow.

File photo

“What we have in the works right now is we will need to finish the street, Village Loop, which is the one for the apartments,” she said. “We will need to finish that up to Highway 20. And then we are in negotiations for a filling station and a car wash/mini-mart right there at the intersection of Highway 20 and Village Loop. We are also in contact with a party for a grocery store there.”
A lake between the apartments to the west and commercial development to the east is also planned, but Nikki Spires joked that it will not go in during her lifetime.
The Spires spent their career running an insurance agency and estate planning service, and have built apartment complexes in the past, but a commercial development is a different sort of beast for them, she said.
“It’s been fun.”