Herald-Whig View

Building facade work brightens downtown Quincy storefronts

Posted: Jan. 1, 2017 12:01 am

RECENT facade improvements in downtown Quincy have been attracting considerable attention, and a number of property owners are making similar commitments to give their buildings facelifts during 2017.

If these building improvements are contagious, we're in full support of it spreading throughout the community.

Austin Properties has done some of the most noticeable facade improvements in Quincy's central business district this year. At 644 Maine, for instance, Bret Austin said iron columns were found beneath the former exterior of a new business, For Home and Her.

"When we saw those beams, we thought we'd do really nice storefronts with a combination of modern and old there and keep with that industrial look," Austin told The Herald-Whig.

The resulting storefronts have black-framed windows and corrugated tin in place of the former entryway and display windows that had concealed the iron columns for about eight or nine decades.

In addition, exterior work was completed this year at Austin Properties buildings at 212, 214 and 216 N. Sixth, including windows, tuckpointing and painting the three structures with a similar color scheme. The building housing Thrive Tea Room and Cafe at 500 Hampshire also sports a new look along its upper floors.

Bruce Guthrie, executive director of the District, described the wave of building improvements as "eye-popping," prompting, he said, other property owners to come forward to discuss potential improvement plans.

There have been other notable downtown improvement campaigns that have beautified the District in recent decades.

For example, the Quincy Park District added a bathroom, lighting and a programmable water fountain to Washington Park. The Washington Theater Redevelopment Commission restored the lighted marquee at 413 Hampshire and spruced up the exterior of the structure. In more recent years, a mural was painted on walls along the west side of Fourth Street between Maine and Hampshire.

Other upgrades, both big and small, have taken place in the central business district, and these improvements have not gone unnoticed. "It's got a ripple effect of people taking pride in their buildings," Austin said.

Moreover, the District sponsored a seminar on the downtown facade program several months ago in conjunction with Quincy Preserves. The program provides a loan and grant of up to $25,000 each, and property owners must then match the amount with their own money.

Facade improvements are evidence of a community investing in itself. Identifying more opportunities to build on these upgrades would be a worthy goal for property owners in 2017.

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