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You will find information about the West Valley side of the Phoenix Metro area. "Snappy" will also feature attractions and places throughout Arizona.

Arizona is more than the Grand Canyon state, it is a place to embrace and call home. From our famous palm trees to our beautiful pine trees, Arizona's landscape is brimming with nature's grandeur and diversity. Our majestic mountains invite you to climb, our valleys coax you to explore and our plains whisper stories of civilizations past. Saddle up to history-rich towns, breathtaking views and world-class fashion and food.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Life for the Beet Sugar Factory, Glendale, AZ

After all these years, one of the state's most notable historic buildings, the Beet Sugar Factory in downtown Glendale, is getting a new chance at life.

The iconic red-brick building has stood in the West Valley for 105 years, vacant for the past quarter-century. This week a Scottsdale wine merchant and developer will announce plans for restoration of the crumbling five-story factory.

Ray Klemp, owner of AZ Wine Co., and his two daughters plan to turn the site into a specialty liquor manufacturer, distributor and tasting room. Visitors will be able to sip on varieties of premium vodka, rum, tequila, gin and apple-pie-flavored liqueur and once construction is done, tour the factory to watch production of the spirits.

The promise of a fixed-up, income-generating Beet Sugar Factory is thrilling to Arizona historic preservationists, nearby business owners and generations of residents who grew up in the building's shadow. Many had wondered whether the broken-windowed behemoth would ever operate again, after enduring years of neglect and failed proposals for reincarnation.

As a touchstone for the local community, the Beet Sugar Factory ranks with Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe and the Citrus Growers Association plant in Mesa. Tempe recently decided to spend $70,000 to turn its mill into an events venue. Mesa's citrus plant was closed last year.

Glendale officials have been pushing for a downtown renaissance for years and staked hopes on reviving the factory in some way. This will have a great affect on the whole down area of Glendale.

Built to last,  the factory built during territorial days is no easy place to modernize. The plant opened in 1906, six years before Arizona became a state. But skilled brickwork and a steel frame make the Beet Sugar Factory sturdier than some historic buildings. Rehab will include lifting by crane a new roof onto the structure, clearing out pigeons, adding a bathroom and brick repair.

Partial floors separating the multiple stories will need to be reinforced, but Klemp plans to keep them open-air so tourists can enjoy the dizzying view to the bottom, where copper liquor stills and wooden barrels will be stored. Banners will be unfurled outside to advertise the distillery and downtown Glendale.

A small house on the corner next to the factory will be renovated for the tasting room with tile floors, a bar and tables inside and outside. A weed-choked lot will be paved into parking, with lush landscaping surrounding it, including plants used in the liquors - agave for tequila, pink grapefruit and Mexican lime for gin, and oak for barrels.

Klemp estimates the cost will reach at least $1 million, paid in cash, over several phases of restoration in the next few years. He expects construction to begin next month, with tastings offered by the fall and the distillery moved from temporary Phoenix quarters to the Glendale plant by the end of the year. Glendale does not plan to offer incentives or provide money for the project. Klemp has revamped an Art Deco-era City Hall into offices in Santa Ana, CA, and restored an adobe structure in Provo, Utah, once owned by Brigham Young. He fell in love with the Beet Sugar Factory in Glendale more than a decade ago.

The factory at Glendale and 52nd avenues has had many lives.  Entrepreneurs built it to process sugar beets into sugar, riding a boom that was successful in other parts of the country. The factory prompted hundreds of new residents and economic investment in Glendale, one reason the small community formed a town. The sugar beet was the center of the city seal for decades. But the processing plant was short-lived. It stopped operating after a decade due to poor soil, drought, plant disease and other problems.

What followed was a beer-distribution center, storage facility, Squirt soda plant and soy-sauce operation, interspersed with bouts of vacancy. The doors closed for good in 1986. The city pursued redevelopment ideas with a Tucson family that owned the property. An indoor rock-climbing gym, Artist lofts, Apartments, Retail shops and restaurants. Studies showed such projects would cost astronomical amounts. The Ringer-Morgan family riled city leaders by saying they preferred to see it demolished. Then in 2009, the family agreed to sell the factory to Klemp, a partner with them since the late-1990s.

At the time, he was helping his daughters, Lauren Klemp, 26, and Morgan Klemp, 24, launch their own Valley liquor company, Forward Brands, in a small Phoenix warehouse. Forward Brands began bottling its spirits last year and sells to places like the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale and AJ's Fine Foods across the Valley. The daughters hope to ramp up production when the first section of the factory is renovated and later expand to the 248-foot length of the building.

Saving a historic building in Arizona, which has fewer such landmarks than the East Coast, is a big deal to preservationists here. The Beet Sugar Factory takes on additional significance for its age, size and construction. Its believed to be Arizona's largest manufacturing building more than a century old and its the largest vacant historic property. The factory should be working by the time Arizona marks its centennial in February 2012.  Klemp and Glendale officials want to incorporate the factory into the celebrations of state history. Residents and business owners in downtown Glendale, meanwhile, are focused on the financial possibilities. They hope the idea will take off and bring much-needed tourists and customers to the area.

For help finding your home in Glendale AZ contact  Mary Parkin Associate Broker, West USA Realty Phone: 602-882-8080 and Toll Free at 888-211-8803 Visit My website: maryparkin.com Mary's email: mary@maryparkin.com

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