Downtown By Design

Redevelopment district adds new life to old Main


Main Street saw more action in 2000 than it had in a long time.

The first phase of the Sawmill Crossing Shopping Center was built off East Main and South Beeline, the Oaks Restaurant closed and the Heritage House restaurant was transformed into the Mogollon Grille.

And that, said Payson Councilmember Dick Wolfe, was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Main Street falls within the town's Green Valley Redevelopment District, which was created to revitalize Payson's historic downtown district. The project boundary ranges from the Beeline on the east, McLane Road and Oak Street on the west, and Bonita and Summit streets on the north. The southern boundary joins U.S. Forest Service land, and land owned by the Tonto Apache Tribe.

The town formed a redevelopment committee in August 1998. Since then, volunteers have been working to spruce up Old Main, which has become a hodge podge of quaint restaurants, light industrial businesses and homes.

The council gave the project its biggest boost last year, however, when it adopted a resolution that made the redevelopment area a special plan district.

"By doing that, we were able to relax some of the development standards to try to attract more businesses down there," Wolfe said.

The special plan district allowed the town to ease development standards, such as parking requirements, building densities and setback requirements. And that, Wolfe said, allows for outdoor displays and sales, sidewalk caf and special events.

The council also formed a design review board to ensure that future development in the Green Valley district is compatible with the overall theme of the area.

One of the most exciting plans for the area, Wolfe said, is a water recharge project that extends from the lakes in Green Valley Park to the Beeline Highway, creating the perfect setting for a riverwalk. The council recently contracted with an engineering firm to design two plans for the project.

"Avondale has got a wetlands project down there to reclaim water, and it's just beautiful," Wolfe said. "It would help our water situation tremendously, and it would be a benefit to the area."

Town officials also have been negotiating for the development of a 40-unit multi-family affordable housing project to border the riverwalk, and they've secured grants to complete nine housing rehabilitation projects in the Green Valley district.

With such a strong start, Wolfe said, it won't be long before the redevelopment district is a thriving destination spot for residents and visitors alike.

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