Main Street Project to rebuild store fronts

Published 10:29 am Thursday, April 24, 2014

Austin’s Main Street Project is about to embark on several big projects.

The downtown historic beautification initiative will help several businesses improve their outer structure starting next week. The group, which pays for easement costs and a forgiveable loan for businesses to return their storefronts to a more historic look, stands to spend more than $300,000 on large-scale projects this summer.

The Austin Port Authority approved five projects during its meeting Wednesday, including three at 330, 326 and 324 N. Main St. for Raymond James Financial, accounting firm Hill, Larson, Walth & Benda and Salon Azteca. The Main Street Project will contribute about $250,000

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“This is something we’ve been working on for a very long time,” Main Street Project President Craig Byram said. “Lots and lots of hours have gone into bringing people to the table and getting them interested.”

Byram said the Main Street Project had hoped to improve that particular building ever since it was created in 2005, to bring that building back to its former historic look.

Raymond James will get a new awning over its door, along with new screen and support walls. The building will also remove and replace the existing concrete slab and stoop, and will infill existing stairs and cover with a concrete slab. Existing door and window openings around the Raymond James entrance will also be infilled. That project will cost about $143,000, with Main Street contributing about $105,000.

On the other sides of the building, the giant white metal facade wrapped around the building’s second floor will be removed, and other windows on the second floor will either be restored or removed. The curved brick canopy on the building’s north side will be removed, but brick planters will remain.

HIill, Larson, Walth & Benda’s project will cost about $105,600, with Main Street contributing about $79,000.

Salon Azteca’s project will cost about $85,600, with Main Street contributing about $64,000. All of those projects will start next Monday.

“It’s something we’ve worked toward for some time,” said Sarah Douty, executive director of the Main Street Project.

VFW improvements approved

In addition, the Austin VFW building will be improved.

The project would add a new facade and new front entrance to the north, along with new windows and new lighting. A new handicapped-accessible entrance would be built on the east side, along with new siding on the east and south sides of the building. There would be minor brick work on the west side.

The project is expected to cost about $105,000 in total, with the Main Street Project contributing about $79,000.

VFW members approved the remodel last month. The project will likely start in June, if not sooner.

The Port Authority also approved using Main Street funds to help Rydjor Bike Shop improve its signage. The Main Street Project will contribute up to $2,500 to replace the sign to create a more classic look for the bicycle shop business. In addition, Rydjor officials hope to install some sort of bicycle-related artwork above the new sign. The project will likely start next month, according to Main Street Project officials.