April 9, 2006
Pioneering spirit' keeps downtown businesses evolving
By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas
If you are a lover of California history, then you probably realize that in each decade, there have always been people who were considered "pioneers" in real estate development.
Some of those pioneers may have developed the first hardware store, the first classy office building or the first shopping center offering "drive-in convenience."
Today, in our effort to strengthen the historic downtown business district, we would like to recognize a different kind of pioneer: The local owners and contractors who see the value in rehabbing the original pioneering buildings, old commercial structures that may have been devalued over the past decades but still have unique features attractive today.
Downtown Fairfield was once the commercial hub of the city with restaurants, general stores, hardware shops, soda fountains and even small department stores.
The buildings constructed by these pioneering businessmen largely remain today, altered over the years but still forming a unique, pedestrian scale and historic business district.
In the last few years, a couple of local residents have emerged to seemingly take a page in history as downtown development pioneers seeking to restore their buildings to new uses and new businesses. Their efforts are helping to create a more attractive, active downtown with new opportunities for nightlife and fun.
The city of Fairfield has established a Business Revolving Loan Fund designed to assist small businesses or individuals in acquiring the necessary capital to either start up, expand or continue operating their company within Fairfield.
Funded by community development block grants, the program is targeted toward small businesses with the potential of long-term job creation.
The goal of the loan fund is to create new jobs and increase the diversity of Fairfield's economic base.
This program has been useful in assisting some of our newest generation of downtown pioneers.
One of these pioneers is Wayne Mayhew. He opened Pepper Belly's Comedy & Variety Theater in downtown Fairfield a few years ago. Mayhew, a Fairfield resident, purchased the former Fairfield Cinema (closed when Edwards Cinemas opened in 2001) to fulfill his dream of bringing entertainment into downtown.
The building underwent a major interior remodel to transform it from an obsolete movie house into a glamorous gathering den for comedy.
This investment required quite a bit of boldness - the thought process of a pioneer.
The city's revolving loan fund program assisted in bringing the project to fruition.
Mayhew also had the foresight to purchase the building adjacent to Pepper Belly's. The building, which once contained Hickey's Bar and Witt Barbershop, is now being rehabbed into an upscale gathering spot.
Patrons of Pepper Belly's will have a new place to hang out, imbibe and perhaps dine, before the comedy show.
The rehab includes totally gutting the former Hickey's portion of the building interior and installing new bathrooms, flooring and a new bar area. The exterior will also get new glass front doors and windows, and granite accent material. Most importantly, an interior opening between two buildings will allow patrons of Pepper Belly's to move between the new space and the comedy club without going out into the rain (or heat).
Once again, the city of Fairfield's Business Revolving Loan Fund is assisting with the project.
Although the ownership of Pepper Belly's itself has now changed (Jim Ignatief and Kathy Cima purchased the business), Mayhew still owns the building and is working with his tenants to ensure that this pioneering entertainment venue succeeds.
There are plenty of development pioneering opportunities available throughout downtown that could help resurrect the area.
We are thankful that some local owners have taken the initiative to help strengthen downtown.
Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
- ► 2007 (799)
- Bay Area businesses leaders optimistic about forec...
- Median family income rose 3.15 percent over the pa...
- Tourism report shows Napa's appeal helps North Bay...
- Business confidence in Sonoma County remained stro...
- Massive Solano wind energy project comes online
- Suisun City Old Town anchor project gets green lig...
- Vacaville Nut Tree overpass to be completed by Aug...
- Solano County predicts $20 million surplus
- California employers are poised to see a third str...
- Lennar learning from base projects
- Career fair attracts several hundred with 85 emplo...
- UC leads patent list for 12th year
- spirit' keeps downtown Fairfield businesses evolvi...
- Massive Solano County wind energy project comes on...
- March unemployment down in East Bay - East Bay Bus...
- Vallejo's Hiddenbrooke housing project moves forwa...
- Rosier year at Sutter Health
- WestAmerica earnings up 17 percent in Q1 - Sacrame...
- UC Davis offers freshman admission to record numbe...
- BIO 2006 in Chicago Surpasses Records
- 'Yes' on Measure H
- Developer Shops for Retail Anchor
- Alza Gets Honor as Employer in Region
- Suisun, Rio Vista Look to the Water to Bring in Mo...
- Solano EDC Backing Sales-Tax Measure
- Portofino in the Pipeline
- Food Manufacturer Brings Economic Nutrition to Fai...
- Senate Bill Proposes Millions to Buy More C-17s
- Suisun City Eyes Revamp in Downtown
- Bee Liners Now Part of Travis' C-17 Squadron
- Suisun City to Sell Downtown Land to Developer
- Squadron Flies Last Mission on C-5 Galaxy
- Face Lift Under Way for Plaza Downtown
- Fairfield Already Safer
- ▼ April (34)
- ► 2005 (627)
- ► 2004 (125)