BUYER OF DOWNTOWN BUILDING PLANS UPGRADES

April 03, 2001 12:00 am

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Hes in the pink now! Or is it more of an orange tint? Whatever color it is under various lighting conditions, its going to change soon.

La Grande financial planning consultant David W. Williams has bought the nearly 100-year-old pinkish-orangish-colored Phoenix building at the corner of Adams Avenue and Depot Street for $265,000.

The building contains five business locations on the ground floor and eight one-bedroom apartments on the second level. Each floor has 19,738 square feet.

Williams plans to do some remodeling and renovations and, in about five months, relocate his own business, Compass Financial Advisors Inc., from 1407 Washington Ave. in the Sac Annex building to the corner spot on the ground floor of the two-story building, where Savannas Formal Elegance is now located. That business will move after the prom season, Williams said.

Our goal is to be in by Aug. 1, Williams said. Were excited about the move.

Besides remodeling the interior spot where his offices will be, Williams plans to give the exterior of the building a new look.

We want to give it a whole different style, he said. Weve applied for a low-interest Community Incentive Funds loan through the city, but if we dont get it, that will only delay the remodeling. Well do the renovations over the next few years anyway.

When tenants move out of the apartments, hell probably renovate those, Williams said. All the apartments are occupied now.

Other first-floor businesses include Future No. 1 Cosmetology College and the Union County Economic Development Corporation on Adams Avenue and La Grande Pet Spa on the Depot Street side. One space on Depot is now vacant, but Williams expects to fill that soon.

The sale price of $265,000 was listed on records filed with Union County, which lists the real market value on the tax rolls as $234,310. The county does not attempt to list true market value, realizing that the price of a property is what the market will allow. The assessed value for the 1905 building is $191,000.

Bob Fallow, who owned the building for about 25 years, said, It was a good investment for me, but Im 77. Im getting too old. Its time to slow down, and the sale will put a little money in the bank to help me take care of my (ailing) wife.

Fallow said the building was occupied for several years by Pioneer Federal, precursor of Pioneer Bank.

The building has changed hands several times over the years. A fellow from Summerville owned it once. Hes the one who put the marble-like material on the front, Fallow said.

He may also have been the owner who raised the exterior walls on all sides, possibly considering adding a third floor to the structure, Fallow said. But that never happened. It remains a two-story building. There is a basement.

Fallow said not much has changed in the building since his initial improvements just after he bought it.

We took out the linoleum in the upstairs apartments, put in rugs and made other improvements to the apartments. But nothing has been done to the exterior of the building in 25 years, he said.

I lost some renters at the start. The ladies said the stairs were too steep and they moved out.

One occupant on the street level when he bought it was a womens dress shop, which had changed hands several times, Fallow said.

Some ladies thought they could run it, but they went broke.

Another occupant of a large ground floor section was a Hallmark Store, which remained there for about a year and a half more before that business was bought out and moved to another location. Fallow said.

The building was the No. 1 spot in town back then, Fallow said. It also contained a real estate office in one spot when he bought it, he

said.