Downtown’s historic Marizon building receives $20k facelift from Center City

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 6:49 AM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Polk Street’s historic Marizon building received a $20,000 facade grant from Center City Amarillo to improve the building’s exterior and enhance curb appeal.

This matching grant awards businesses for upgrading their curb appeal and making downtown Amarillo more welcoming.

“Curb appeal is really important for that welcoming appearance. I think if you were moving to our city you would drive downtown and think these groups are investing in our downtown and they are investing in the future,” said Beth Duke, executive director of Center City Amarillo. “The city continues to thrive. We want [our] downtown to be a place people want to move.”

The facade grant program is a partnership with Center City and the City of Amarillo.

Originally built in 1919, the grant helps give the Marizon building a new life, which now serves as a restaurant and event center.

Center City says Marizon building owner, Bill Tarwater, was a downtown visionary.

Tarwater was one of the first people to buy and preserve one of Amarillo’s historic buildings, marking himself a catalyst in the revitalization of downtown.

“When we bought the building, you had to have a lot of vision to see and think it could ever become what it is today,” explained Tarwater. “There were literally no restaurants, no coffee shops, no downtown dwellings or apartments or anything like that. For a long time, we were the only one...everyone said we were crazy, but it’s paid off.”

The facade grant allowed Tarwater to repaint the Marizon building’s exterior, put in enhanced lighting and display new signage.

“We repainted all of the front of the building that needed to be painted, refinished the doors, trimmed the tress and completely redid our signage out front. We installed the LED lighting system out front. Did some graphic work on the inside of the windows,” Tarwater explained. “It was basically a refresh of things that haven’t been touched since 1995 when we bought the building.”

Tarwater’s renovations cost roughly $40,000.

“It’s a matching grant. We know many of our grant recipients spend a lot more than the grant, but $20,000 really helps improve the facade,” said Duke. “Over the years, the [Marizon building] got some wears and tears, water damage, and it was just time for a face lift.”

The Marizon building was Center City’s first restoration project in 1996.

Since, Center City has awarded more than $1.35 million in facade grants to downtown businesses.

“Our buildings tell our history and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever,” said Duke. “These are buildings you could not replicate today with the original tin ceilings and the floors. So we are proud to keep this building thriving. Now, an old department store, an old car dealership, has a new life as an event venue and it is bringing so any people downtown which is one of our missions for Center City.”

This renovation, along with the Barfield building and new Amarillo Club, comes as Center City continues their mission of promoting life downtown.

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