Dream builder

When Mike Rose talks about his business, Medina-based Washington Properties, his passion for his work comes through in his words.

The company grew out of a simple hobby: renovating houses. Today, Washington Properties owns and manages 50 properties in Medina and Wayne counties. Most are combined commercial/residential projects, and all have an historical flair.

What sets Rose apart from other builders is his devotion to using traditional methods and construction materials rarely found in today’s marketplace, both in renovation projects and in new construction.

“It’s extremely rewarding to take an old building that’s boarded up and come up with a concept, and you breathe life into it,” he says. “The numbers have to work financially, but to me, just making the money on a project is not enough — the satisfaction is what drives us.”

With his projects, he tries to mimic the feel and look of buildings constructed more than 100 years ago, with the use of materials such as cherry wood, tile, historic lighting and exposed brick.

“It creates an environment that allows people to feel good about being there,” Rose says.

“I think we go against the grain,” he says. “We’re not doing what the norm is for builders. They (his projects) are more expensive but more rewarding.”

Rose founded the company in 1985 with the purchase and renovation of a small commercial building. At the time, he was bored with the meat-packing business he’d run for 20 years, and was looking for a career change.

He knew he had a knack for renovating and selling older homes, and learned to apply those skills to commercial buildings by talking to people in the business and learning from their experiences.

“It all just evolved from that,” he says.

Today, most of Rose’s properties are in the historic districts of Medina and Wooster. He just finished the construction of an arcade in Wooster that was based on four existing historic buildings. The finished project consists of seven buildings of retail, office and residential loft space, surrounding an internal street.

“The larger developers are now trying to create Main Street USA. What we’re trying to do is bring it back to the original area,” he says. “So many communities have seen a shift where all the retailing is moving out of the downtown areas. We’re trying to bring retailing and service back to the core part of the city.”

He says the goal of these projects is to create a destination spot for the community, not just for the residents, but for visitors as well.

“I just couldn’t imagine doing it differently,” he says. “I have to feel good about it and it has to be attractive and have a quality about it or we’re just not interested in doing it.” How to reach: Washington Properties, (330) 725-6767