A new look for a Prescott landmark? Changes eyed for Bashford-Burmister building
When it comes to the architectural trends of the times, Gurley Street’s historic Bashford Courts building has always been decidedly fashion-forward.
After the original Bashford-Burmister building burned in Prescott’s devastating fire of 1900, a new Renaissance Revival brick building was constructed to replace it in 1901.
By 1929, the Bashford-Burmister Building underwent its first major facelift, when Art Deco-column elements were added.
Then, within a few decades, the Bashford Building again took on the modern look of the day with the addition of a 1950s/60s-era ribbed-metal false front for the building that then housed the J.C. Penney store.
Right on cue a couple of decades later, the false front was removed, and the original Art Deco style was restored.
In recent decades, the building has been the home of the fashionable Bashford Courts Atrium Mall.
Now, the new owner is looking to give the prominent downtown building another fresh look – this time with new signs, new paint, and new lighting.
Craig Hannay, whose Phoenix-based Hannay Realty Advisors company has owned the building for about 15 months, made the rounds this week to two City of Prescott commissions for review of his plans.
On Thursday, Oct. 10, the Bashford Courts’ comprehensive sign plan went to the Prescott Planning and Zoning Commission for review.
And on Friday, Oct. 11, the Prescott Preservation Commission considered the paint, lighting, building façade changes, as well as the sign plan for the building.
Hannay told both boards that tenants who do business in Bashford Courts often complain that shoppers are unaware of their businesses because of the lack of proper exterior signage.
“It’s a common theme – ‘people don’t know we’re here,’” Hannay told the
Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday.
At Friday’s Prescott Preservation Commission meeting, Hannay added that Bashford Courts had lost about 25% of its tenants in the past 15 months.
Although a number of factors contributed to that, he said the sign situation was one of the reasons tenants have cited for leaving.
‘AN AWFUL LOT OF SIGNS’
The plan that originally went to the Planning and Zoning and Preservation commissions involved about nine panels on the building’s front – each of which could have included signs for individual businesses.
Right from the start, commissioners on both boards appeared reluctant to recommend so much additional signage on the historic building.
George Sheats, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, pointed out that the original plan proposed signs “on almost every surface, with the exception of the columns.” He added: “That’s an awful lot of signs.”
Ultimately, the Planning and Zoning Commission opted to postpone its decision on the comprehensive sign plan until Oct. 31, to allow for input from the Preservation Commission.
On Friday, Preservation Commissioners also voiced concerns about the number of signs in the original proposal.
Preservation Commissioner Mary Ann Suttles told Hannay that although she appreciates his efforts to improve the business, she added, “I cannot see that building sort of junked up with signs.”
Hannay agreed. “I think everyone agrees that if we put signs in all of those locations, it would be too much,” he told the Preservation Commission.
In an effort to reduce the clutter, Hannay said he plans to prohibit businesses from having signs in their windows. In addition, he plans to put a film product over the glass to obscure the stores’ interiors.
“My vision is to clean it up and improve it,” Hannay said.
Still, he emphasized that businesses within the Bashford Courts were consistently asking for better visibility.
After more than an hour-and-a-half of discussion, Hannay and the Preservation Commissioners agreed to reduce the number of new locations for signs from the requested nine total panels to just two (on the lower panels).
Under the Preservation Commission’s recommendation, the building could also have a new sign that would consist of individual letters illuminated and “raceway mounted” to the awning front (similar to the Lone Spur Café signage just down the street).
The commission also agreed to recommend a directory-style sign near the Bashford Courts’ front door for individual businesses, as well as signage on the north side of the building (near the roof, where the building surface is visible alongside a billboard that exists on the next-door building).
Hannay also plans to paint the building in a taupe/beige color to replace the existing yellow paint, and install eight metal stars on the columns, which would be lit at night.
After the meeting, Hannay said he hopes the painting would occur by about the first of November, and the lighting improvements before the holidays.
Meanwhile, a $350,000 renovation is wrapping up inside the building and should be done in the next month or so, he said.
The comprehensive sign package still needs to go back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for continued consideration. The commission’s recommendation would then go the Prescott City Council for a final decision.