More Money For Main Street

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With 4,000 Rim country residents helping to gift wrap a most productive year on Main Street by attending the Electric Light Parade, Project Manager Karen Greenspoon has turned her attention to 2003.

At the top of the list are four additional facade grants, each for $20,000 -- double the amount of the 10 grants awarded previously.

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The opening of Dr. Patti Blackmore's Pine Country Animal Clinic in a new building featuring a territorial motif was one of the highlights of Main Street beautification/redevelopment in 2002.

According to grant guidelines, eligible activities include landscape and streetscape improvements, building facade treatment improvements, replacement and/or upgrade of nonconforming signage, and improved access for the disabled. The federally-funded Community Development Block Grant Program is administered by the Arizona Department of Commerce.

Greenspoon emphasized that these are federal grants distributed for "the beautification of a blighted area" and no additional tax dollars are involved.

Recipients for the first round of grants were Byrne Auto, Payson Auto Classics, Somewhere in Time Antiques (in the old Zane Grey Museum building), Payson Sports Equipment, Colorado Communications (the old school bus barn), Natural Wellness (formerly known as Sunrise Chiropractic), Ray's Automotive, Cuts & Stuf, Highline Engineering and Rustix Furnishings.

The new recipients will be selected by a design review committee that includes Community Development Director Bob Gould and two members each from the Green Valley Redevelopment Committee, Historic Preservation Committee and Main Street Board of Directors.

A point system will be utilized to rank the applicants, with those willing to commit additional money receiving extra points. Although the recipients have total control over design and other options, Greenspoon said that a territorial look will once again be recommended.

She is also planning to announce in the very near future that as many as five businesses have decided to set up shop on Main Street -- several of which are relocating from other parts of town.

Construction will also begin this year on the historic park planned for a 5,434-square-foot parcel of land once occupied by Boardman's General Store at the northwest corner of Main Street and McLane Road. Three boxcars were removed from the site early last year.

Other priorities for 2003 will be determined next month when Greenspoon meets with the town council.

"As part of the Corporate Strategic Plan, the council has already established Main Street as one of its priorities -- in the top 10," Greenspoon said. "Now each department is meeting with the council and going through what they want to accomplish."

Besides the 10 new facades, other 2002 Main Street highlights included:

  • The opening of PCW Guns in a new, three-story log building on the west side of the Ox Bow Saloon. Owners Mike and Marta Pollack moved the business, which sells retail guns, builds custom firearms and does general gun repairs, to Payson from St. Johns.
  • The opening of Dr. Patti Blackmore's Pine Country Animal Clinic in a new building featuring a territorial motif.
  • The re-opening of the Ox Bow Saloon under dynamic new ownership and its eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The opening of Steve Christensen's Mountain Air Gifts just east of the Ox Bow Saloon.
  • The opening of Pro Office Equipment.
  • The opening of Mad Dawg's and Mel's, a gourmet hot dog, brats and Italian sausage joint with a retro '50s car dealership and garage motif in the Payson Auto Classics building. Co-owners Madeline Manchio and Melanie McCarthy were formerly with Fargo's Steakhouse.
  • The opening of the Museum of Rim Country Archaeology in the space formerly occupied by the old library.
  • The opening of Chili's at Sawmill Crossing and construction in progress on a new retail building in that complex that will house a health club and other businesses.
  • The planting of a permanent town Christmas tree in Green Valley Park

On the minus side of the ledger, the Mogollon Grille closed its doors and a proposed western town fell through.

An 84-year-old Payson landmark, the Mogollon Grille had reopened under its current owners in August 2000. The property was built in 1926 as a private residence by Julian Journigan, and has had several incarnations since.

Prior to housing the Mogollon Grille, it operated as a gift shop and a soup-salad-sandwich "tea room" -- The Heritage House -- from 1985 until 1999.

The western town, dubbed Boomtown, went bust over a disagreement between developer Leonard Will and Kaibab Industries, owner of Sawmill Crossing and the 2.5-acre site just to the west where the project was to be built. As envisioned by Will, it would have included a wedding chapel, restaurant, saloon and 19 smaller shops.

As the year drew to a close, two Payson Main Street projects -- the Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade and Payson Auto Classics -- earned top honors in the 2002 Main Street Awards competition.

The Electric Light Parade was named "Best Special Event" over Nogales' Youth Mariachi Festival and Sedona's Centennial Postal & Pony Express Re-enactment.

Payson Auto Classics took top honors for Best Facade Renovation Under $25,000. New owner J. D. Bell utilized a 1950s retro theme, including a vintage soda fountain, to revitalize the building that formerly housed Payson Auto Repair and sat vacant on Main Street for several years.

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