Photo by Aaron Ricca.
KINGMAN – Downtown revitalization isn’t just for businesses.
Arnold Plaza on Oak Street is one step closer to becoming a central hub of help for homeless and unemployed veterans. The asbestos-laden building has been vacant since 2005 when the Mohave County treasurer’s and assessor’s offices moved out.
In August 2016, The Mohave County Board of Supervisors approved the sale of Arnold Plaza to the Jerry Ambrose Veterans Council for a price of $58,500. The idea to demolish the building was scrapped when bids to tear the building down came in at over $500,000. Since then, a formal sale is contingent upon abatement of all hazardous materials.
According to JAVC President Pat Farrell, a survey of the site has been completed and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has received a grant of an unspecified amount from the Environmental Protection Agency to remove all hazardous materials. Once ADEQ receives funding from the EPA, HAZMAT removal will begin.
The plaza project is dead-center in ADEQ’s crosshairs.
“This is their first priority for the state,” Farrell said. “When is Mohave County first for the state in anything?”
“Operation 6: I Got Your Back” is a three-phase program plan by the Jerry Ambrose Veterans Council to buy the building, identify homeless veterans and help them find housing and gainful employment.
JAVC intends for the building and its staff to offer a “hand up,” not a hand out, to county veterans.
“This is a total makeover for the vet,” said JAVC President Pat Farrell. “They have to want to help themselves. We’re not going to waste resources on people who just want to hang out and hold a sign.”
JAVC chose Arnold Plaza for its proximity to numerous resources to help the veterans.
The Arizona@Work offices inside the Arizona Department of Economic Security office on Pine Street and adjacent to the Mohave County administration building at 700 W. Beale St., the ADES office on Beale Street, the Kingman Veterans Court, Kingman Area Regional Transit hub on Route 66 and numerous other city and county offices are all within a mile of the proposed veteran’s center.
As far as finding vets work, Farrell has reached out to Dot Foods, Inc. and briefly talked with the Kingman and Mohave Manufacturing Association in hopes of putting veterans to work. He’s also working with Kingman Regional Medical Center to find veterans kitchen work.
“If you can cook, you’ll always have a job,” Farrell said.
Farrell said JAVC intends to be good neighbors with the downtown community. The plaza redesign is expected to include 22 individual apartment style units, training and resource rooms and other service areas. There will be rules for residents and those at the plaza seeking help. Alcohol, drugs and loitering will not be tolerated.
“This will not be a flophouse,” he said. “If (vets) are unable to work, we’ll find them a home.”
Accommodations will be coordinated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing Program.
Pending a few pen strokes on the part of the EPA, a start-date for HAZMAT removal is still months away, but JAVC will still need money to keep the plaza up and running once the doors open.
“Funding is always an issue,” Farrell said. “We’re working with city, county and state agencies for grants. Individual donations are always welcome. We’ll also be looking for people are great at marketing and fundraising.”
There’s no exact number on the amount of homeless veterans in Mohave County, but Farrell reported 390 veterans attended the March “Stand Down” in Bullhead City, and about 40 of them were homeless. JAVC has high hopes for the center once it’s up and running.
For more information, to donate or volunteer, contact Farrell at 928-716-3001.