Investment On Main Street 'Amazing,' Schum Says

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Total private investment in Main Street reached $1.75 million during the past fiscal year, a figure outgoing Mayor Ray Schum calls "amazing."

The latest numbers, which showed that taxpayers only spent $45,000 on Main Street during the same period, were presented to the new town council at its first meeting earlier this month by Karen Greenspoon, Main Street project manager, and Minette Richardson, promotions chairperson for the project.

"You have to contrast this with what happened the prior 10 years, which was basically nothing," Schum said. "So this is really a major, major move forward. It shows we've got some momentum started."

Property acquisitions

The private investment total includes property acquisitions, improvements to existing properties and new construction.

The largest acquisition was the recent purchase of the Ox Bow Inn by Beverly and Roy Nethken for $390,000. The Nethkens plan to renovate the historic structure in three phases, beginning with the reopening of the Ox Bow Saloon including the main bar, a more intimate piano bar, and an open courtyard for music, dancing and weddings by July 31.

Phase two has a November 30 completion date and includes a dinner theater and Texas-style barbecue restaurant. A third phase, with an estimated completion date of spring of 2003, will include seven gift shops.

The Ox Bow was recently declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of properties considered worthy of preservation. It will join the lodge at the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park as the only structures in the Rim country on that list.

Five other parcels of land were purchased during the past fiscal year for an average price of $160,000. In addition, the town spent $45,000 to acquire a 5,434-square-foot parcel at the northwest corner of Main Street and McLane Road for an eventual historic park.

The town has applied for a grant from Arizona State Parks Heritage Funds to build the park on the site in 2002, and hopes to also recoup 50 percent of the land cost back. The site was once occupied by Boardman's General Store, the first wood structure in town and home of its official clock.

Private improvements

The Ox Bow also topped the list of private improvements, with the Nethkens spending a total of $78,000 on renovation during the past fiscal year. Next on the list, with $45,000 in improvements, was the former dentist's office at 404 West Main Street, which was acquired by the Nethkens for $360,000.

Next on the list was the newly-opened Museum of Rim Country Archeology. The Northern Gila County Historical Society spent $28,500 renovating the Payson Womans Club building, former site of the public library.

The new museum, home to displays on the Rim country's original prehistoric inhabitants, is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $2 for adults, $1.50 for seniors and $1 for students.

The remainder of private improvement monies was spent in conjunction with eight of the 10 facade, landscape and streetscape grants recently awarded to Main Street businesses.

Leading the way with $20,000 of his own money was J.D. Bell, owner of Payson Auto Classics. Bell is building a combination classic car memorabilia shop and 50s diner.

Other recipients who more than matched their grants include Highline Engineering ($12,697), Cuts & Stuf ($11,676) and Colorado Communications ($11,088).

Other businesses receiving the $10,000 grants include Byrne Auto, Somewhere in Time Antiques (located in the old Zane Grey Museum building), Payson Sports Equipment, Natural Wellness (formerly known as Sunrise Chiropractic), Ray's Automotive, and Rustix Furnishings.

Recipients were selected from 14 applicants by a design review committee that included Community Development Director Bob Gould and two members each from the Green Valley Redevelopment Committee, Historic Preservation Committee and Main Street Board of Directors. The federally-funded Community Development Block Grant Program is administered by the Arizona Department of Commerce.

New construction

The only new construction project during the last fiscal year was the Winchester property, valued at $265,000. The three story log structure, which is nearing completion, will house PCW Guns. Owners Mike and Marta Pollick are moving their business from St. John's.

Eventually complementary log structures will eventually be built on adjoining lots with a cowboy-type covered wooden sidewalk running along the front of all the buildings.

New construction projects scheduled to begin shortly include Pine Country Animal Clinic, a 3,200-square foot structure that will have separate retail space, and High Desert Dentistry, which is moving across the street from its current location.

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