Renovation of historic building could help revitalize downtown

The Central Commercial Building will be getting a facelift with the help of the city of Kingman. The awnings, windows and parapet of the building will be repaired and the facade will be returned to its original look with the help of a Community Development Block Grant. Photo: SUZANNE ADAMS/Miner

The Central Commercial Building will be getting a facelift with the help of the city of Kingman. The awnings, windows and parapet of the building will be repaired and the facade will be returned to its original look with the help of a Community Development Block Grant. Photo: SUZANNE ADAMS/Miner

KINGMAN - Good things come to those who wait.

The merchants in downtown Kingman have been waiting for a long time for something to happen with the old Central Commercial building at the intersection of Beale and Fourth streets.

Starting the first week of December, the city will be helping Joe Ott, the owner of the building, renovate its facade.

The plan is to take it back as far as possible to the original look of the building.

The building is made up of one large central portion and two smaller buildings with additions.

It was built around 1917.

The building was used as a commercial goods store. According to records at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, the store sold everything from clothing and shoes to food, tools and furniture.

The building at the corner of Fourth and Beale streets is the oldest part of the structure.

It originally held a bank and upstairs apartments. Another section of the building, which now houses The Spinster craft store, was once a post office.

The city applied for and received a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant from the federal government.

Some of the money went to renovating part of the Boys and Girls Club downtown.

Around $500,000 of it will go to renovating the outside of the Central Commercial Building.

This is the first time the city has used grant money to help a private individual, said Bill Shilling, a grant administrator for the city of Kingman, who is in charge of the project.

The main reason why the city is helping Ott renovate the building is because of health and safety issues, Shilling said. Several of the awnings and a parapet wall along the top of one of the buildings need to be repaired or replaced.

Ott will be putting about $285,000 of his own money into the project.

Complicating the work slightly is the fact that the building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. The registry was created as part of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The act creates a partnership to preserve historic buildings between federal, state and local governments, non-profit and private organizations and the public. The National Park Service is in charge of the registry. Buildings can be nominated for the registry by filling out an application. In order to qualify for the registry, a building must be older than 50 years. It must have some sort of historic, architectural engineering or cultural significance. Buildings that are made of unique materials, workmanship or connected with a special event or person are also considered for the registry.

The owners of a building are notified of an application for the registry and a public hearing is held. If an owner objects to the listing of the property on the registry, the application is stopped. The building may be put on a list of buildings eligible for the registry.

Once a building is listed on the registry, owners may do as they please with the building. They are under no obligation to restore, renovate or open the building to the public. Owners of buildings listed on the registry may be eligible for certain federal historic preservation funds and tax credits.

However, if an owner accepts federal funding to help renovate a building on the registry, the work must recreate the original look of the building as closely as possible.

Since CDBG funds come from the federal government, Ott has to recreate the original look of the building.

Shilling pointed out a cornice, or decorative edging, along the top of the building in an old photo. Ott is planning to recreate the cornice work and found two companies that offered materials similar to what was pictured.

One company offered the materials at a lower price, but the design wasn't a close enough match to the original work for the National Registry of Historic Buildings. Ott will have to purchase the more expensive option, which is closer in design to the original.

Ott also has plans to renovate the inside of the building.

Amazingly, the inside needs very little work, Ott said.

The inside of the building on Fourth Street is open and has a concrete mezzanine level. Ott said it needs to be repainted, replastered in places and a new heating and cooling system installed.

One of the reasons why Ott said he chose to renovate the building instead of tearing it down is that the building is structurally sound.

The building is made of poured concrete and hollow brick.

Ott said it would cost more to tear the structure down than to repair it.

And it doesn't need that much work, he said.

"You can always fix the looks. Besides, it's a neat old building," he said.

Both Shilling and the Kingman Downtown Merchants Association are hoping the renovations will jump-start interest in the downtown area.

"We are hoping this will be a catalyst to the area and will attract more businesses to a renovated downtown," Shilling said.

Willis Lynes, owner of The Clock Man and president of the Downtown Merchants Association, said he too hopes it will bring more people and businesses downtown.

"Bring it on," he said when he heard about the renovation.

"This has been a long time coming," Shilling said.