Business feature: Reinvesting in downtown

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Jimmy Vela of Nick Griego & Sons Construction applies comfill to fresh concrete being poured Friday at the Main and Seventh Street construction site, where four new stores and parking lot are being built.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

In about six months, Charles Wade is hoping the empty space on the southeast corner of Seventh and Main streets will be lined with buildings that look like they’ve been there all along.

Wade and business partner Dennis Rogers are revitalizing the L-shaped lot by building a row of four buildings modeled after downtown Main Street and called “The Village.”

The buildings will be available for lease by retailers or business owners, Wade said.

A downtown businessman himself for 30 years, Wade said he and Rogers wanted to see growth in the downtown area, but they also wanted to maintain the nostalgic value, especially since the lot was home to the first strip mall in Clovis.

Concrete work began last week on the lot, and Wade said he expects the buildings will begin to take form fairly quickly.

“I think things will look pretty sharp in about six months,” he said. “It’s going to be neat.”

Robyne Beaubien, executive director of the Clovis MainStreet program, said Wade and Rogers are prime examples of what needs to happen in the downtown area.

“I love that they’re honoring the history by calling it “The Village,” she said.

“It’s everything that MainStreet is all about, it’s about preserving and making it better.”

A little less than a year ago, the last remnants of The Village Plaza were demolished after the city condemned the property.

The buildings will face north and have a facade modeled after the architecture of the original Main Street buildings, hopefully bringing back some of the vibrancy that area had, Wade said.

“Maybe the rest of those people will start getting an inspiration to do something downtown,” he said.

Wade said Clovis had been good to him and he wanted to restore it.

Referring to the project as a gamble, Wade said, “I’m investing in this, I want Clovis to grow.”

Beaubien said downtown Clovis needs more investors like Rogers and Wade.

“We are thrilled with the project. We are obviously very happy when anyone improves property downtown,” she said.

“We need property owners and developers to step out and take the risk at making those types of improvements.”