The former Needful Things building just north of the Ohio River bridge has a new owner and will soon have a new function and look.

Kathie Petkovic, owner of the Riverboat Inn on East First Street, purchased the building this week for $75,000 and plans to renovate the location into conference or reception space.

"I paid more than I wanted, but I felt it was crucial to get," Petkovic, who has long been critical of the property's condition, said.

The transaction involved Don Stewart and former Needful Things owner Julie Marshall.

Marshall is serving a prison sentence for corrupt business influence, possession of a synthetic drug, maintaining a common nuisance, three counts of tax evasion and three counts of failure to withhold employee sales tax.

Marshall was buying the building on contract before she was sent to prison, at which time she quick-claimed the property back to Stewart, according to property records.

As part of a July out-of-court settlement with the family of Ryan Moreland - a local man who died after taking synthetic drugs witnesses say he purchased at Marshall's hilltop Needful Things store - Marshall was prohibited from operating a retail business at the downtown location. She also lost ownership of her hilltop Needful Things store.

Petkovic, who owns property throughout Madison, put an offer on the downtown building when it became available. Petkovic had considered buying the property several years ago before it became Needful Things.

Since then, she said Marshall's shop has been an eyesore for her inn because patrons had to drive past Needful Things to get to the Riverboat Inn.

"The entrance to Madison has been pretty trashy, let's face it," Petkovic said.

Her goal is to use the location as an extension of the Riverboat Inn by transforming it into a reception or conference area.

The first priority for Petkovic is to renovate the exterior, including the windows and doors and finding a new outside color scheme. Much of the exterior also is covered with wood paneling, which she plans to remove.

Petkovic said she believes there is a demand for such a location downtown for businesses and small groups. She said she's often approached by businesses looking for a place downtown to have a small conference or brainstorming session.

She plans to include a caterer's kitchen and enough space for 50 to 60 guests.

"There are just a lot of different uses people need," she said.