[Source: Mark Cowling, Florence Reminder] — Town officials, historic preservation advocates and officials of W.E. O’Neil Construction Company gathered Monday morning to celebrate the beginning of the second phase rehabilitation of the Silver King Hotel at Main and Ruggles streets. Kilvinger and other speakers expressed appreciation for the FPF and IDA for their work over the years to save historic buildings. “Thanks to the IDA, who first made this a historic town, and one of the premier historic towns in the state,” Kilvinger said. As for the Silver King, “We will work as hard as we can to make this a success,” she added.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Florence Reminder. Pictured: Bonnie Bariola presents Jess Knudson, the town of Florence’s Silver King project manager, with a plaque to display in the finished building.]
[Source: Sean Higgins, Casa Grande Dispatch] — Plans for an area development to have residential and commercial buildings near Casa Grande Ruins National Monument were unveiled for the Coolidge City Council, which postponed action on the matter pending decisions on the height of buildings. “This will be a nice addition to Coolidge,” Mayor Tom Shope said. If approved, the project would be off North Arizona Boulevard, encompassing about 102 acres. “It will really respond to the needs of the area,” Senior Project Manager Nick Labadie of Rose Law Group said Aug. 25. “It will be a great gateway for the city of Coolidge.” He said it would “respect the area and heritage of the Ruins.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Arizona Republic] — The town is hoping the historic Silver King Hotel will be ready for an occupant by the end of the year. Twelve contractors have submitted proposals to complete renovations on the hotel, and the town wants an aggressive construction schedule. The hotel was a center of local social life for 100 years until it closed in 1977. The Florence Preservation Foundation bought the building and 12 years ago was awarded a $500,000 federal grant. The money was used to stabilize the building and put on a roof, windows and doors. The town bought the building from the foundation last year.
[Source: Harold Kitching, Casa Grande Dispatch] — If all goes well, Casa Grande will soon have 120 acres for a regional park on the north side. Monday night, the City Council approved purchasing 100 acres at the northwest corner of Hopi Drive and Pinal Avenue for $4.7 million and accepting a donation of another 20 acres from the sellers, Richard and Robert Linden, whose family has owned the property for years. The Lindens will keep 39.22 acres in the northeast corner of the 160-acre parcel for future development. Final negotiations are under way, Deputy City Manager Larry Rains said, with documents to be available by the time of the next council meeting, when the purchase ordinance must again be considered. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder] — Traditionally, IDAs exist solely as fundraising conduits. In 1968, the Florence IDA established its own independent approach that also includes land ownership and involvement in historic restoration. The IDA’s list of accomplishments is impressive. It includes restoration of the Suter house, the Brunenkant Bakery building and the building that houses Total Concept. They helped build Jacques Square, financed facades, and helped establish the Townsite Historic District.
And, when McFarland State Historic Park faced closure, the IDA prepared a comprehensive resolution that helped keep the park open in perpetuity. “We’ve done a lot within that 40 years,” Florence IDA president Peter Villaverde said. “I’m sure we’ve spent close to $2 million for various projects, starting with the Visitor’s Center, which is now going to be the Main Street headquarters. “My project is Jacques Square. We purchased that for $20,000, the town participated, the community participated. … The developer who restored what is now Total Concept was really impressed by what the community can do when working together, and donated the watering system for the trees.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Mark Cowling, Florence Reminder. Pictured: The reconstructed Cosmopolitan Saloon, one of the Florence IDA’s many accomplishments.]
[Source: John Collins Rudolf, Zonie Report] — The steady gaze of Earnest McFarland, who in the mid-20th century served Arizona as a U.S. senator, governor and state supreme court justice, looks down on every visitor to the state park that bears his name, a restored frontier courthouse in dusty Florence, built in 1874. “We will never be perfect in our government, but high ideals can predominate,” reads a brass plaque beneath the portrait, quoting one of McFarland’s favorite sayings.
Yet perfection is hardly the word that comes to mind during a tour of McFarland State Historical Park. Massive cracks stretch from floor to ceiling on more than one of the building’s original adobe walls. A support beam braces a crumbling exterior wall, keeping the wall and sections of roof from collapsing. In another room, which over the years served variously as a jail, county hospital and prisoner-of-war camp, caution tape warns visitors to avoid a gaping hole in the floor. “McFarland did a lot for this state and this community, and I think he would be very saddened if he saw the condition of this building today,” says assistant park manager Terri Leverton. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder] — Six more homes in the Florence Historic District have received their own commemorative markers as part of an ongoing project of the Historic District Advisory Commission. “We really appreciate the town supporting getting more markers,” H. Christine Reid of the Pinal County Historic Museum said, “because when there’s more markers, it helps everyone realize the historic value of these buildings. They have a story behind them, not just a blank facade.
“People lived in them, they contributed to this area’s history.” Special markers were erected to honor the historic homes of prominent early Florence residents Elmer Coker, John Keating, William Jennings, George Brockway, John Zellweger and Dr. William Harvey. Reid explained that the Historic District Advisory Commission started the annual home tour originally to raise funds to purchase the markers. “Since then, the home tour has been delegated to other entities, so we’ve had to get funding from the town,” Reid said. “It takes about a year to get all the information gathered. At the museum, we use our archives and files to help document the information.”
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder. Pictured: The historic Elmer Coker House.]
[Source: Miner-Sun-Basin News] — The Town of Superior administrative offices recently completed their long-awaited move to the newly renovated and historic Belmont Hotel Building on Main Street but the sign officially proclaiming the building as ‘Superior Town Hall’ took a while longer to arrive, but arrive it did and in huge letters it advises residents and visitors alike that this is the place to come to conduct town hall business. The town has also created a Community Development Office across the street at 230 W. Main Street jointly with the Superior Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Superior Planning Office. The Superior Police Department remains in the former town hall building and conducts its operation from that facility. [Photo source: Cindy Tracy.]
[Source: Florence Reminder] — The town this summer will once more look for a contractor to complete rehabilitation on the historic Silver King Hotel, in hopes the slower economy will generate more affordable bids. Also holding down costs will be the town’s intention to leave the interior mostly unfinished, so a tenant may tailor it to his needs. An architect is at work on the revised plans, town officials said. When the town first sought proposals for completing the hotel’s restoration a couple of years ago, the bids came in at more than $1 million, which was double the available funding.
During a walking tour of the downtown historic district last Thursday, Town Manager Himanshu Patel told the gathering of about 40 people the finished project will be a “shell-type building” which can then be leased for retail or offices. The town’s ultimate goal remains “a viable reuse of the building and a vibrant downtown,” Patel said. Last year, the town had some discussions with three partners who were interested in completing the old hotel at Main and Ruggles for an Irish-themed restaurant and sports bar. But town officials “don’t foresee them coming to the table anytime soon” and believe “we need to pick up the pace,” Assistant to the Town Manager Jess Knudson said this week. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Florence Reminder] — The Florence Main Street Program has been accredited as a 2008 National Main Street Program for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Trust Main Street Center®. The Florence Main Street Program joins over 700 other Main Street revitalization programs being recognized as 2008 National Main Street Programs. Each year, the National Trust Main Street Center and its coordinating program partners announce the list of accredited National Main Street Programs around the country that have demonstrated their ability to follow the Main Street methodology.
“We congratulate this year’s accredited National Main Street Programs for meeting our established performance standards,” says Doug Loescher, Director of the National Trust Main Street Center. “Rebuilding a district’s economic health and maintaining that success requires broad-based community involvement and support, in addition to establishing a solid organization with sound management that is committed to long-term success.” The National Trust Main Street Center works in partnership with Coordinating Main Street Programs throughout the nation to identify the local programs that meet the National Trust Main Street Center’s ten basic performance standards.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Florence Chamber of Commerce.]