Business leadership deemed essential to downtown redevelopment

Efforts by business people and the city to improve the appearance of historic downtown Kingman and attract more tourists has resulted in more traffic on Beale Street.

"I have only comments of people downtown," Roger Swenson, city manager, said.

"But, the signs marking the historic shopping district are working."

Mural painting on downtown buildings started even before Swenson organized an ad hoc committee last fall to come up with a plan for downtown.

The committee's work resulted in a city council pledge of $66,000 for a series of downtown projects.

"The mural on the county court building is fantastic," Pete Proffit, president of the Downtown Merchants Association, said.

"I have heard only positive comments."

Sandy Rusinko, a local artist under a $9,000 city contract, painted the historic scene of local ranchers.

A mural of a locomotive on the water tower was included in the contract; work on this mural is underway.

Kingman City Council budgeted some of the money for painting some buildings in the downtown core as part of the effort to improve the appearance.

A painter has been contracted by the city for about $8,000 to paint four buildings.

The painter will begin work as soon as the city completes negotiating agreements with the building owners.

"Area business people could get the job done quicker," Swenson said, "They would not have the same contracting limitations and legal obligations a city must follow."

Other downtown building owners have or are planning to paint other buildings in the core area at their own cost.

Jim Fuller at A and P Pawn, a former president of the DMA, is preparing to paint.

"It always helps to clean things up," Fuller said.

"I like the murals and expect them to attract people.

My building is available for a mural."

Fuller sees downtown as a busy place with good customer traffic.

He said businesses come downtown because they can be profitable.

Proffit, speaking for the Proffit Family Trust, said the closing of the Factory-2-U discount store on Beale Street hasn't slowed the pace of business downtown.

The trust owns the building.

Proffit said another retailer should be in the Factory-2-U site in a month or two.

Mohave Engineering, a potential tenant for the building, decided to stay in its current location.

Ann White at Ann's Craft Shop on Andy Devine Avenue joined other downtown merchants in a monthly full-page ad in the Miner to help bring more people downtown.

White and Proffit said the ad has been successful and includes downtown merchants who are not members of the DMA.

Completion of the painting, clean up, trash cans and parking lot at the old Mulligan building site on Route 66 and the murals should encourage downtown business people to increase support for the current renovation efforts Proffit said.

"We need to increase our membership and provide the leadership to keep this effort going," he said.

"We have enthusiasm now and strong support from the city.

The DMA will have to step forward."

The Kingman City Council authorized businessman Scott Dunton to recruit additional business people and bring an action plan to the next council meeting.

Dunton has pushed the mural effort and has talked to buyers for major empty buildings downtown.

Community efforts include involvement of several city commissions, the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce and appointed city committees, The original ad hoc committee appointed by Swenson has divided into three action committees and will meet over at least the next two months to coordinate efforts.

Consultant Roger Brooks, hired by the city to study the city, said successful city renovation projects are usually driven by leadership from the business community.

Proffit said the DMA needs more members and stronger support if it is to be the source of leadership.

Swenson said the city is committed to support the renovation and development of tourism in Kingman but business leadership is essential.