Renovations to the historic Hayden Flour Mill are slated to begin as soon as next week, Tempe officials said.
Chris Messer, a principal planner for Tempe’s Revitalization and Redevelopment, said the $600,000 project to refurbish the mill could begin next week if the city’s funds add up.
“We are going to be starting hopefully next week,” Messer said.
Tempe Councilwoman Shana Ellis said the renovations could create a pedestrian friendly environment, linking the community from University Drive to Tempe Town Lake.
“I think it would make it much more walk-able and create a piece of history people can actually access,” she said.
Ellis said the proposal would make the mill a destination for local concerts and programs in the short-term. The mill would then be used as a location for a community garden and a mill machinery museum in the long-term.
Ellis said there has been significant community support to restore the Tempe landmark.
“In this economy, for the council to vote to spend that much money and to not get any complaints was amazing to me,” she said. “It really says to me how passionate people are about the mill.”
Jeff Zimmerman, owner of Hayden Flour Mills, said he is grateful for the city’s idea of refurbishing the mill.
Zimmerman, whose company is named for the mill, said it is a good opportunity to turn the building back into a community hub.
“I think what they are doing is a good idea to make it an entertainment venue, to landscape around it and clean the building up (to) make it safe,” he said.
The current mill was built in 1918 by Charles Hayden and was utilized for flour production until it was closed in March 1998.
The funds for the mill’s renovation have been raised primarily through the Rio Salado Foundation.
Tempe Councilwoman Onnie Shekerjian said her constituents have backed the renovation since the Council began deliberating on it during the summer.
“I think it’s an investment that our community trusts us not to go overboard on, but also is really glad (for) what we are making in this iconic building,” she said.
Shekerjian said she is excited to eventually see the mill become a part of an “interesting” connection between Mill Avenue and Tempe Beach Park.
“To provide for an attractive gateway that celebrates our historic past, I think is really important,” Shekerjian said.
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