Sep 132011
 
Authors: Elisabeth Willner

After six days of construction on his doorstep, Lindsey Chrisanti, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Olive Oil Co., is anxious to get the cover down from his windows, but pleasantly surprised about the minimal impact on his business.

“Our sales were the same last week as usual,” said Chrisanti, who had wondered when the construction, which covers all of the business except the door, would discourage customers from visiting his shop.

His is the first of nine businesses scheduled in a nine-month reconstruction project of Old Town Square’s historic Avery building.

The building, well known for its prime location, has sustained 114 years of inconsistent repairs, changes to storefronts and general wear.

Now the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), History Colorado’s State Historical Fund and the ownership group (Palmer Properties, Palmos Development Corporation and Dimitrios Katopodis) have organized about $700,000 for the reconstruction plan that will restore the building to its historical design.

“It’s one of the best locations [in Fort Collins],” explained Spiro Palmer on behalf of the ownership group, who purchased the property four years ago. “We knew from the beginning that it would have to be preserved. It will be good for the city and the partnership.”

The project will restore damaged stone, brick and metal work, as well as replace the façade and apply new paint. Work began on Sept. 1 on the businesses facing College Avenue, and will move to Linden Street and Mountain Avenue in January 2012.

Workers will move from the bottom up, beginning with lower storefronts, then moving to higher brickwork.

Ultimately, the building will be made to resemble its original look: that of the bank built by early Fort Collins resident Franklin Avery.

In the meantime, tenants have to sit tight while the project goes underway, but most are looking forward to the outcome.

“Anytime there is scaffolding and loud noise, you have to assume it will negatively impact [business] somewhat,” said Christie Rogers, manager of Alpine Arts. “But that’s the price you pay for a lovely remodel of a historical building.”

Collegian writer Elisabeth Willner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

h3. A brief history

1890s: Businessman Franklin C. Avery, who later becomes known for designing Fort Collins’ wide streets, commissions architect Montezuma Fuller to design the building that will later bare his name.

Part of the building is designed specifically for Avery’s bank, First National Bank, which still exists in Fort Collins today.

1897: Construction on the Avery building is completed. Early tenants in the Avery building include doctors, lawyers, architects, a grocer, one aspiring newspaper and Avery’s bank.

1938: First National Bank moves out of the building.

1981: Mitchell and Company of Denver unveils a plan to preserve Old Town Square.

2007: Palmer Properties purchases the Avery block for $3.9 million, and begins working with the city on plans to restore the building.

*2011:*Restoration work begins. The History Colorado State Historical Fund, Fort Collins Development Authority, and Palmer Properties, Palmos Development Corp. Dimitrios Katopodis fund the restoration.

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