The City of Globe has embarked on a project that it hopes will anchor development on a high-profile corner in Historic Downtown with the rehabilitation of the Michaelson Building on the corner of Broad and E. Sycamore streets as a co-workspace, business incubator and welcome center.
The corner is diagonal from the train depot and will reflect the city’s desire for increased downtown development and new economic activity in the future.
“We have been actively engaged in economic gardening,” City of Globe Economic Development Director Linda Oddonetto said. “The seeds we’ve been planting the past 18 months are sprouting all at once.”
With the help of grants from the USDA, Freeport-McMoRan and a capital expenditure from Gila County, the 90-year-old building will soon get an overhaul, and by the summer of 2020 the crumbling façade will be reinvented.
The concept came to Oddonetto last August at a Rural Policy Forum in the Valley. It was there she met Matt Clower, a board member for CO+HOOTS, an organization devoted to helping small businesses in Arizona by creating public workspaces. CO+HOOTS is leading an urban renewal effort in Mesa and, according to Oddonetto, Globe is the first rural community in the state to take it on.
“He invited me to his co-work space and I was blown away,” she said. “I thought, ‘This has to be in Globe.’”
While no formal agreement has been made, pending completion of a business plan, Oddonetto expects it all to come together once work on the building is complete.
To that end, both Gila County and Freeport McMoRan, through its FMI Community Investment Program, have pledged $150,000 each for the project.
According to Gila County Manager James Menlove, the money is part of a $10.9 million construction and infrastructure fund that has been worked into the budget to help improve the face of towns throughout the county.
“We’re trying to create a city center, with the Train Depot creating a community gathering space,” he said. “It has nostalgic charm and improving the area shows we’re proud of our downtown.” says Menlove.
There are still many details to work out and a business plan to write, but funding to launch the project has been secured through the capital grants as well as a USDA Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) grant that will help get the incubator off the ground once construction is finished. The City of Globe is one of 47 communities in Arizona to receive 2019 REDI grants that could ultimately be worth more than $50,000..
So the entire project will be grant funded, with the expectation that fees and space rentals will sustain the business model.
“The county is seeing this as economic development, not just a nice way to fix a building in downtown,” Oddonetto said. “We already have people who want to get on a waiting list.”
The 8,000-square-foot space will include private offices and meeting rooms, as well as programs designed to create “a true business incubator focused on our rural community, small business entrepreneurs and to support existing businesses.”
Oddonetto hopes to have the building reopened by the end of the summer in 2020.
“It’s exciting,” Oddonetto said. “We are investing in downtown and who better to start than the City of Globe? We see investing in downtown is a catalyst to development.”
History of the Building:
11929: The building was constructed in 1929 by James P. Michaelson, who built several others including the Masonic Hall, according longtime downtown businessman and former council member and mayor Stan Gibson. It was originally built as a grocery store with an open air market and housed Safeway before that corporation built its own building across the street.
21959: Purchased by George and Margaret Leech. Do we know what it served?
31982, Edward and Patsy Blanco, along with Edward’s sister Carmen Slough, purchased the building and opened Carmed’s, a clothing store named for Carmen and Edward.
41991: The Blancos sold the building to Gila County in 1991
51994: After extensive interior renovation it became the Child Support and County Attorney investigator’s office.
62015: County Attorney moved to county offices on Ash Street. The Michaelson Building has been empty since.
72018: The City of Globe, sought ways to utilize the space to ease crowding in inadequate city facilities and considered moving either the Globe Police Department or the library into the building. While the move would have been a step up from the current department headquarters, it was deemed inadequate as a long-term solution. A hue and cry from library administrators and supporters killed that idea by June 2018.
82019: The idea for a shared work space downtown catches on and gets $300K funding from the County and FMI Community Investment Program.
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.