Old West Town In The Works For Main Street

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A proposed Old West town-themed shopping and entertainment complex on Main Street will feature a wedding chapel, restaurant, saloon and 19 smaller shops.

The complex, which will be built on a vacant 2.5-acre site just west of Sawmill Crossing and behind a row of Main Street businesses including Main Street Paint and Decorating, is being developed by Leonard Will, a project consultant who spent 25 years as a project engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense. Will, who currently lives in Scottsdale, presented the concept to the town council at its regular meeting last week prior to appearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission to have the property rezoned from low-cost housing to commercial.

"We wanted the town council to be aware of (the project) before it goes to planning and zoning, said Karen Greenspoon, Main Street project manager.

Will said he doesn't anticipate any problems in dealing with the town.

"I don't want to get too involved with the politics up there," Will said from Scottsdale, "but the city fathers have made their (support of the project) known."

Greenspoon agreed.

"The council was very supportive of it," she said. "This should be huge for sales tax revenue."

As envisioned by Will, the complex, given a working title of "Boomtown," will feature a western steakhouse-themed restaurant and saloon and an operating wedding chapel patterned after one in Cave Creek.

"The frontier town in Cave Creek has a white chapel in the back and I always thought that was really nice," said Will. The Main Street chapel, where people can actually get married cowboy style, will have a livery that serves as a reception area.

The 19 shops that will be leased out could include souvenir and gift shops, art galleries, boutiques and perhaps an ice cream store. Will also plans to offer free entertainment at Boomtown, including western shootouts, hay rides, and an old photo shop where customers can have their pictures taken in western costumes.

"We've even got Pitiful Paul and his stagecoach and mules from the Valley," said Will. "They need a cool place to spend the summer."

Local architectural firm Spragins & Hinshaw has been hired to design the project. Rex Spragins, a partner in the firm, says his company has utilized the same architecture for several projects. "We did the design for the buildings at Bison Ranch, and we designed Stockmen's Bank and Dr. Patti Blackmore's Pine Country Animal Clinic," he said. Blackmore's clinic is nearing completion just west of the Boomtown site.

"Some people call it territorial, and I guess it could be called that," said Spragins. I just call it a western motif. Generally it's the 1890s style of architecture."

Hinshaw said the shops will not be all that large.

"The buildings are small in scale," he said. "They'll be five-, six- and 700 square feet."

Boomtown will have its own parking accessed by two entrances, one off the Sawmill Crossing entrance on Main Street, and the other via a new road the town is planning to build just west of the project. That road will connect Main Street and Aero Drive.

Will hopes Boomtown will one day be part of the American Gulch project to provide a walkway from Sawmill Crossing to Green Valley Park.

If all goes well, he hopes to have the complex completed and open for business in the spring of 2003.

"(The project) is going to come before planning and zoning next month to get all the rezoning done, and then it'll go to council in December," Greenspoon said.

Once those hurdles are cleared, Will plans to begin advertising for tenants and break ground.

Will, who plans to move to the Rim country soon, first became interested in Main Street when Scott Flake, director of the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation, took him to a Main Street board meeting.

"We were going to put in a high tech mini-storage place with fingerprint entry somewhere up there, and then I went to one of the Main Street board meetings. I don't know how we made the transition from the mini storage to a western complex," Will said with a laugh.

While he hopes to hold a naming contest for the complex in the near future, Will, Greenspoon and Spragins are hopeful the project becomes the catalyst that turns Main Street back into the boomtown it once was.

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