Main Street makeover

Published 2:25 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

For the past 100 years, the Hastings family of Austin has been a part of the Austin Main Street. Mark “Skip” Hastings and wife, Jean, are the second generation owners of Hastings Shoe and Repair, which began as Jensen’s Harness Shop.

Hastings Shoe and Repair is one of a diminishing number of stores where you can not only buy shoes, but get your current ones repaired, along with anything else you need mended or embroidered. “We can mend anything but a broken heart,” Mark Hastings said. After 41 years in the same location, their business received a makeover thanks to the Austin Main Street Project.

The process began more than a year ago when the Hastings signed themselves up to be a part of the Main Street Project. To begin the process, business owners must approach the Main Street Project with a plan for what they would like to do with their building.

Email newsletter signup

The owners are free to choose the architect they would like and have the final say on the project. “All we require is that the final design be brought to our committee,” said Sarah Douty, Austin Main Street Project director.

Jean remembers the paperwork as being quite a hurdle, but said that the project coordinators were helpful.

The renovation process began on June 5, but it was not long before it hit a snag. The architect found a problem. Over its long life, the building had additions and prior remodeling projects, leaving it with three layers of brick walls.

Before the construction could begin, the architect decided that it would have to be reinforced. This delayed the project by two to three months.

During this time, the store moved to a temporary location next door, the former South Central Athlete building. Jean remarked that it was tough balancing act, managing the construction, customers and moving, but well worth it.

“It was very hard, we had to run back and forth, but we made it through,” she said. “We are very glad we did it. I would recommend it for any one, any business owner.”

Despite having to hold their breath and losing a little sleep during every heavy summer storm, the rest of the construction went smoothly. “I’m really happy with (the results), it turned out great,” Douty said. “Without the owners being willing to invest in it, (the building) wouldn’t have survived.

They moved back to their newly renovated location on Nov. 15. There is still unpacking left to do, and they still have to take stock, but Jean hopes to have everything back to normal within a month. Although a lot of their store is still in boxes from the temporary move, they are, and have been, open for business.

The project itself cost approximately $300,000. The Hastings provided $100,000, and the project accounted for the rest. In the Hastings’ opinion, it was well worth it.

“We will hopefully see another 100 years in this building,” Jean said. “Hopefully our grandchildren will carry on something here.”

The building itself is about 140 years old and has seen its fair share of residents. In its lifetime it has been a bakery, courthouse, sewing machine company and now Hastings Shoe and Repair.

The Austin Main Street Project has helped renovate 15 business in approximately a dozen buildings. Plans for future projects are already in the works.

To get involved with the Main Street Project contact Sarah Douty at the Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority at 433-1866.