Rim Country Business Scene Freshens Up, Expands

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The new McDonald's at the corner of Beeline Highway and East State Route 260 in the center of Payson has to be the most noticeable change on the Rim Country's business scene.

The fast food icon opened in the 1980s and went through many remodels over the years and owner Abe Martinez was considering making yet another update to the original building. Looking at the costs involved -- especially in making needed repairs to the old equipment -- Martinez and the McDonald's Corporation opted to tear down the original building and start from scratch. Martinez called it "scrape and rebuild."

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Annalese Heath, 6, is just one of many Rim Country residents and visitors who have enjoyed the new McDonald's at the corner of Highways 87 and 260 in Payson. The new version of the longtime fast food restaurant reopened for business in December.

The doors of the old building were closed at 1 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 and reopened at 5 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23. In fact, at the time of the reopening, the Payson McDonald's was the newest restaurant building in the chain's U.S. operations. It was built in record time, Martinez said. He said it took only 101 days from closing the doors on the old building to opening them in the new structure.

The new facility is approximately 5,200 square feet, which is about twice as big as the original structure.

While the new McDonald's opened at the end of 2005, a number of new buildings were completed and occupied throughout the year.

Most of The Home Depot in Payson was built in 2004, but the finishing touches were put on in the early months of 2005, and the store opened for business at the end of March.

The National Bank of Arizona opened its new offices in Payson in mid-April. The structure was built to be large enough to house all the bank's operations, which previously had to be conducted at two different locations.

The Maverik Country Store at the corner of North Beeline Highway and Forest Drive started construction in 2004 as well, and opened for business in the summer, providing gas and convenience store items, plus full-service bakery goods.

A number of new retail and office spaces were built in 2005, most of these in the vicinity of the Swiss Village Shops, but others were constructed on the newly opened East Main Street near Payson Regional Medical Center.

In October, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for one such facility at 117 E. Main St., the Payson Professional Plaza.

Up north, Pine Creek Cabins opened to serve visitors making two-night, or longer stays, in the area.

To the east, in the Christopher Creek area, the opening of the S.R. 260 bypass led to a boom in construction. Several old structures and trailers were cleared off property on the north side of old 260 and construction was started on vacation residences being sold on a fractional basis.

New business

The Rim Country had many new businesses start in the area in 2005 and several existing companies were taken over by new owners. Some of the new businesses and new business owners to make a stake in the area included:

  • Desert Schools Federal Credit Union opened in early 2005 in the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
  • The Rock Yard, which started in Payson, did some growing in 2005, expanding its Chandler operation with a new showroom, design center and warehouse.
  • Shayne and Marilyn Dedman bought Payson Florist in January and augmented the inventory to include unique gift items. The Dedmans have since expanded their space as well.
  • A new gift shop, Breezee's Antiques and Furniture, was opened in January by Chris and Breann Landers.
  • Pete Hold opened a business to remove nuisance animals, called Critters Etc.
  • Lynn Nelson and Robert Feistner opened The Book Store & More in February.
  • Judy Johannson opened Spa Dog, a mobile pet grooming service in June.
  • Jeff Johnston brought his Lone Tooth denture business to Payson in early 2005.
  • Dan Frost opened Bootleg Archery in May to serve the needs of the Rim Country's bow hunting enthusiasts.
  • Coffee shops opened around Payson in 2005: Fireside Espresso, Roadrunner Espresso and Java Jo'z.
  • The Oasis Christian Books & Gifts store was taken over by longtime employee, Bettie Clark.
  • RenĂ© Waggoner opened Payson Pet Salon on Main Street in June.
  • Lee Brown, a certified arborist, started New Leaf Tree & Shrub Care.
  • A new doughnut shop, Wayne's Donuts & Deli, was opened by Kirk Pfeifle and Eric Pfeifle in July.
  • Greg Allerton reopened his Payson Art & Frame business in his home in April and renamed it, Master Frameworks. The business is at 613 W. Wade Lane.
  • Andrew and Cindy Kofile saw their AZ Spectrum Wireless business grow when the Sprint and Nextel companies merged.
  • Steve and Bobbie Klavuhn opened Your Silk Garden in June, bringing Rim Country residents a new option for floral decor.
  • The Sidewinders Saloon in Pine was bought by Tony Gianndrea in March.
  • Rim Sight and Sound, a high-end electronics store, was opened in October by Terry Oakley.
  • A franchise, Whisper Creek Log Homes was opened in Payson by Wes Carlock.
  • Pine Country Antiques and Vintage was purchased by Maureen Garlausky and Lorna Pietrantonio.
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    Brothers Rick and Jason Finkler followed their dream of owning a business in the mountains to the Cabins on Strawberry Hill.

  • The Cabins on Strawberry Hill were purchased by Rick Finkler and Jason Finkler in early 2005. The brothers spent much of the year remodeling the vacation units.
  • The 1918 Hilligas House, at 700 W. Main St., was purchased by Penny Navis-Schmidt, a master and clinical social worker, in April and was remodeled into a multi-practice healing center.
  • Bank One, at 201 S. Beeline Highway, became Chase Bank, which was celebrated with a grand opening in December.
  • The Art and Antique Corral in the Western Village, 1104 S. Beeline Highway, was taken over by town historians Jinx Pyle and Jayne Peace Pyle in late 2005.
  • Payson native, John Franklin, turned the former Mountain Air gift shop on Main Street, into an attorney's office.
  • Former Edward Jones representative Kevin Dick went into a new venture. He opened his own office at 719 S. Beeline, Kevin Dick Investments and Financial Services of Wachovia Securities Financial Network. In a related development, Scott Flake resigned as executive director of the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation to become a representative for the Edward Jones company. Flake was replaced at the PREDC by former Gila Community College president, Dr. Barbara Ganz.
  • In December 2005, new owners, Robert and Laura Herrera and Richard Campbell, took over the historic Ox Bow Inn.

Efforts to further freshen the face of business in the Rim Country were launched by the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation in 2005. A multi-level connection was made with Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an internationally renowned biomedical research facility based in the Valley.

Payson High School's Beryl Jones, now a senior, was selected from a wide field of college and high school applicants to participate in a summer internship with TGen. The groundwork was put in place to bring TGen scientists to the Rim Country in May.

More than 150 of the company's researchers and executives will hold a retreat here and at other venues in the Rim Country.

Town and business leaders worked throughout 2005 to develop a plan for future economic growth, creating the Focused Future II plan, facilitiated by Arizona Public Service.

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