Payson's Main Event

New coordinator guides Main Street redevelopment

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Most of the groundwork on Payson's Main Street redevelopment plan had already been done when Karen Greenspoon was hired in December 2000 as Payson's Main Street Coordinator.

And that planning, she said, will make her job as the watchdog of Main Street redevelopment much easier.

"The major part of the progress of 2000 was obtaining the designation of being an Arizona Main Street Community," Greenspoon said.

The state's award-winning Main Street program fosters economic development within the context of historic preservation. Only 20 communities are allowed to participate in the program at a time, and the towns that qualify are eligible for state grants. The Arizona Main Street Community designation also helps property owners and merchants work in partnership with local and state agencies to revitalize downtown areas.

"To qualify for the designation, you have to show community support. That's a big portion of it," Greenspoon said. "You have to be able to show that the residents, and the town are interested in becoming a Main Street Community."

Greenspoon, who developed the Show Low Main Street project into one of the largest programs in the state, said she's found the kind of community support and visionary leadership in Payson that the town needs to reshape its downtown district into something special.

The Main Street redevelopment area encompasses all of Main, and the neighborhoods one block north and one block south of the historic route.

With all of the groundwork in place, Greenspoon said evidence of the town's Main Street efforts will soon be visible.

"Around mid-April, we'll have a resource team come into Payson," she said. "The resource team comprises a team of architects, the Department of Commerce, and some of the town people. They will be conducting interviews, not only with the people on Main Street, but some of the other people within the community who have been involved in the process, to see what they have in mind for Main Street."

Once those interviews have been completed and compiled, the resource team will create a conceptual drawing based on a consensus of those opinions.

After the design boards are done, the Main Street program will offer technical assistance to individual businesses.

"One of the big benefits is that we can have our team of architects go in and help the business owner come up with a conceptual idea for their store, free of charge," Greenspoon said. Grants also will be available for qualifying merchants to help them remodel or refurbish their business.

"We're trying to create a walking-shopping district that's going to draw people off of the highway down there to spend their money," she said. "We hope that (all businesses on Main Street) will want to join in and help us create that district."

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