Facade lift: Town program helps give old storefronts new life

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Accountant Dawson Alverson was approved for two $20,000 reimbursements for improvements to the front of his building in the Town Center as part of the Queen Creek Facade Improvement Program. The extra money enabled him to afford high-end finishes such as driveway pavers last year and a new metal roof to be installed in the near future that will give the former home the commercial, industrial feel he always envisioned while upgrading deteriorating properties. (Wendy Miller/Independent Newspapers)

Dawson Alverson has invested more than a quarter-million dollars into a building in which to operate his business in Queen Creek. Thanks to financial assistance from a municipal program, the building looks more like a million bucks.

Mr. Alverson owns and operates QC Accounting. After moving his business between the limited office space available in Queen Creek — renting here, office-sharing there, he said — he came across a 1,000-square-foot home built in the 1940s at 22237 S. Ellsworth Road in the Town Center.

He purchased the deteriorating structure for $80,000 in November 2014. Since then he has spent nearly $200,000 on improvements to the rundown building, he said, transforming it from a two-bedroom residence to a contemporary commercial building with clean lines outside and an industrial feel inside.

The financial investment was not as painful as it could have been because about one-fifth of the expenses were paid for with money from the town of Queen Creek Facade Improvement Program.

The program helps stimulate business in the Town Center — 900 acres of commercial, entertainment and housing options radiating from Ocotillo and Ellsworth roads — by addressing deteriorating property conditions in its commercial areas, according to its web page on the town’s website: http://www.queencreek.org/departments/economic-development/town-center.
Its purpose is to improve the street-facing exteriors of a building or residential structure that has been redesignated as commercial or office space in the Town Center. Property owners and tenants of these commercial buildings can apply.

Applicants can receive up to $20,000 for improvements that enhance the property as viewed from the public right-of-way. These enhancements include exterior painting, plants and landscaping, awnings, doors, windows and signage as well as the demolition of obsolete structures, according to the town’s website. Funding is awarded only for the portion of the project that can be seen from the street.

In January 2015, Mr. Alverson received $20,000 toward renovations to the front of his building. These included pavers for a circular driveway, commercial windows and stucco. At the Oct. 26 meeting of the town’s Economic Development Commission — the group that approves or denies program applications — commissioners OK’d Mr. Alverson’s second application for program funding, approving the maximum $20,000 toward his $39,162 project. The money will reimburse the accountant for two gates, a new raised-seal metal roof and a monument sign in the front yard.

The program allows a business person to receive two reimbursements.

Having the town funding elevated his construction finishes from nice to exceptional, Mr. Alverson said.

“During the first go-around, I got pavers, which I couldn’t have afforded on my own, and then I really stepped it up on my landscaping,” he said, The pavers cost about $16,000, he said.
The funding also paid for one of two commercial-grade glass doors (the other was installed in the rear of the building), at a cost of $1,500 each.

His second program approval helped offset the cost of the $28,000 raised-seam metal roof that will give his building the industrial look Mr. Alverson envisioned, he said.
“It is the best you can buy. It will look really good,” he said.

Without the facade improvement program, he would have selected a less expensive, standard tile roof, he said.

The Queen Creek accountant heard about the program from his banker. He said the application process was easy.

“You have to do your homework. They require quotes and bids to substantiate the costs, but the time and effort are worth it,” Mr. Alverson said.

He credited Queen Creek Economic Development Coordinator Jennifer Lindley for getting him through the process.

“She held my hand through the whole process,” he said. “She was great.”

Town Center business owners and tenants can apply to the program throughout the year, Economic Development Director Doreen Cott said during a phone interview. At one time, applications were accepted on a quarterly basis, but that stalled the process for many business people, Ms. Cott said.

Since the Economic Development Commission meets monthly, applications are reviewed on a more timely basis, she said.

“We want to be as flexible as possible for the business community,” she said.

In addition to Mr. Alverson, the commission in 2015 also approved an application from the World Famous Mike’s Bikes shop at 20907 Ocotillo Road. The $8,000 funding helped offset the project’s $16,000 cost for a new fence, roll-up doors, new paint, front windows, a commercial-grade front door and building signage, Ms. Cott said.

At the Oct. 26 commission meeting, commissioners also approved reimbursing about half of the $13,162 project cost for facade improvements to Cactus Plaza, the multi-tenant commercial center on the west side of Ellsworth Road just north of Ocotillo Road. The money will be used to freshen the building’s exterior, changing the color of the trim from teal to taupe and dark brown and to make minor repairs to its stucco, Ms. Cott said.

For more information, visit the town’s website at http://www.queencreek.org/departments/economic-development/facade-improvement-program or call Ms. Lindley at 480-358-3523.
The Queen Creek Economic Development Commission generally meets at 7:30 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month in the Queen Creek Town Council Chambers at 22350 S. Ellsworth Road.

However, due to the holidays in November and December, the commission will hold one meeting on Nov. 30 to cover both months.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123. Be sure to like us at www.facebook.com/Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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