Owners transform humble plaza into shopping and dining hot spot

by Linda Forbes, Co-owner, Old Firehouse Plaza

So, it all started with a book. On a family vacation, one of our three sons asked us to read “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I read it cover-to-cover on the flight to Hawaii, and my husband, Robin, read it on the return flight to the main land. That book changed our lives forever. We wanted to get out of the “rat race.” We immediately began searching for commercial properties. A couple of other opportunities fell out of escrow, and then in August of 2004, we purchased the building that eventually became the Old Firehouse Plaza.

At the time of the purchase, the building was poorly maintained, and was partially leased with offices and two local favorite restaurants. It had a very tiny parking lot. Back when I attended Mile High Middle School, I remembered when the building was a fire station for the City of Prescott. After some discussion, Robin and I decided to rename the property the “Old Firehouse Plaza” and we painted it red and black.

I immediately went to Sharlot Hall Museum and Prescott Fire Department to start collecting old photos. I really wanted to find and restore the old “talking” bell that sat on the corner of Goodwin and Granite streets, but later found that it had eventually made its permanent residence at Station 72.

Our transition to an upscale retail shopping center actually began without a plan. We had a tenant that moved out of a space, and we started to remodel and clean it up. Robin and I discovered an expansive high ceiling structure that had been hidden by a drop ceiling as well as beautiful brick walls that had been covered up with drywall. My parents thought we were crazy, because we immediately started demolition and couldn’t stop tearing the place apart! We wanted to expose all of the original beauty of this space, which is where the Classy N Sassy Boutique is located today. One by one, suite by suite, we continued to remodel and restore every brick wall and high ceiling structure that we could find.

In September 2006, we started construction on the new building. To maximize space, we used the old hose tower (where the fireman used to hang the cotton fire hoses to dry them) as our elevator shaft and connected the two buildings with a walking sky bridge. Those with a keen eye will notice a lot of subliminal decoration details with ladders, flames, etc. that were designed into the construction.

Last summer, we transformed the old loading dock into another beautiful outdoor patio dining space, located behind the newly renovated space where the English Garden Tea Room and Bistro now offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Today, we are pleased to say that our renovations are almost complete, and that we have been able to have the amazing opportunity to help create “Prescott’s Hot Spot for Shopping and Dining!”

So, to summarize, no, we are not out of the “rat race.” We are still working diligently, side-by-side, with all of our amazing hard-working tenants who share our commitment to providing the most elite collection of the finest, locally owned and operated businesses in downtown Prescott!