Turning Vacant Lots Into Social Centers

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A new project by Amon Builders is being touted as the kind of development Main Street needs to become the tourist attraction and town gathering place its proponents envision.

Called Main Street Depot, the new project would be constructed on a 1.5 acre site at 417 W. Main St. It features a two-story building that would house shops and galleries, and a single story building for a new restaurant.

As currently designed, the ground floor of the two-story building would have seven suites, according to Mike Amon.

"I'm kind of looking for a coffee shop/deli, a picture frame shop/art gallery, maybe some kind of a little restaurant/grill," Amon said. "I want all retail downstairs. I want art galleries and antique shops that will complement the antique stores that are up and down through there now."

While Amon is still considering his options for the second floor, he is leaning toward professional offices, although additional retail is still an option.

"Retail could go up there because I will have both stairs and an elevator," he said. "I've had some talks with people wanting to put a game room in for the kids."

Main Street Project manager Carol McCauley is lobbying for apartments on the second floor, a concept Amon hasn't ruled out.

"I like the idea of residential on top of commercial," McCauley said. "It give us some sorely needed workforce housing, but not only that, it puts life (downtown) after dark, and the more you have of that the more friendly the area becomes."

The freestanding restaurant in the second building would be just over 5,000 square feet, with an additional 1,500 square feet of patio dining.

Amon even has a prospective tenant in mind -- Macky's Grill.

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The site is directly across from Body Elegance Day Spa. The gutted building currently on the site once housed an auto battery store.

"They'd be a great addition down there because they already have a great following," he said.

Beyond the right retail mix for Main Street, a big key to the project's success is making it pedestrian friendly, Amon believes.

"I'm trying to design it so it's all pedestrian friendly, so if they're walking down Main Street they can come into my complex and go through it," he said. "It will have indoor corridors and there could actually be three patios around the outside and patios above as well."

The site is directly across from Body Elegance Day Spa. The gutted building currently on the site once housed an auto battery store.

"I'm starting to (demolish) that existing building and clean up that lot right now," Amon said.

Project plans are still in the preliminary phases, but Amon hopes to break ground in the fall. He will not begin construction until the building has 60 percent occupancy.

For more information, call Amon Builders at (928) 474-0689.

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