City offers options to enhance downtown

KINGMAN – City officials proposed options for downtown revitalization at the Merchants Association meeting Wednesday, though they said property owners had to step up to the plate.

Mayor Les Byram said the slowdown in residential development would affect the local economy, however, a $60 million contract to build a new jail, the Wal-Mart distribution center and a possible trade center inevitably holds promise for the area, that “should bring restaurants and bars downtown,” as well as a downtown grocery store.

Byram said he would like to see affordable homes built around the district, and identified losing the downtown post office as an example of California developers buying buildings where small businesses are located and making it hard for them to succeed, adding that he planned to talk to the Kingman postmaster about keeping the downtown office open.

The lease is up in September for the Fourth Street building, where tenant and contract postal operator Helen Graves faces a rent raise and stipulation to hire a maintenance man to bring the building up to code required in the new lease.

City Economic Director Jeff Weir said the city is looking at making the Beale district more pedestrian friendly to appeal to tourists, and encouraged the Association to consider expanding on public events.

“Whatever stuff you’re working on, you need to be doing more,” he said regarding social events.

City Grants Administrator Bill Shilling said the city is looking at expanding the curbs at some Beale intersections for more pedestrian traffic, which could be funded through the city’s share of Community Development Block Grant money.

Weir said the initiative for development, however, lies mostly in the Association’s court.

“The Mayor, Council, and people in the community need to see the emergence of business owners to step up and say ‘here’s what we can do,’” he said, acknowledging the imperative of keeping amenities such as a post office downtown.

“If we start losing these, it’s going to be a real struggle,” he said.

The next general meeting for the Downtown Merchants Association is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Aug. 2, at the Brunswick Hotel.