Business area seeking historic designation

Monday, September 19, 2005
Schock's Community Arts Center in Scott City is home to a Mexican restaurant, banquet hall and a pub.

SCOTT CITY -- Four years ago, Paul Schott bought a large, two-story building at the corner of Second and Hickory streets. Built in 1920, it was a furniture store for decades before becoming a thrift store when Schott, the Chamber of Commerce president, envisioned a better use. Now called Schott's Community Arts Center, the building has five upstairs apartments, and on the main level are a banquet hall, a Mexican restaurant and a pub.

Schott said the city has designated the Second Street area, home to many small businesses, the Old Illmo Arts District. Schott owns four buildings there that he's renovating for use by future businesses. He wants the buildings to exude the charm he says his first building has.

"We're trying to develop the area into an historical main street," said Schott, who teaches art at Southeast Missouri State University. "Right now we're finishing up our nonprofit status, then we'll be working with state and federal officials."

At Schott's Community Arts Center, the building has been refurbished to show much of its original construction. In the pub, plywood paneling was removed to show, on parts of the walls, original wood slats that separate it from Maria's Place, a Mexican restaurant that opened earlier this year. Carpet was removed to expose the original hard-wood floors.

Maria's Place also has partially exposed slats in the walls. The pub, restaurant and rental hall share a common, ornate copper ceiling. The rental hall can seat up to 200 people and Schott said it's used for weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties and other special events.

Schott said a dog grooming shop and a beauty salon recently opened in Old Illmo Arts District, and a 60-house subdivision is being built to the north. Last April, Buchheit, an area home and farm supplier, bought the former 260,000-square-foot Supervalue distribution center in Scott City.

"The biggest recent economic impact has been the sale of Supervalue," said Schott. "Buchheit is going to be moving in their trucking company. That could create some jobs. And Buchheit plans to rent out office space there to other businesses."

Mitch Robinson, director of MAGNET, an area business recruiting association in Cape Girardeau, said Buchheit has a trucking operation in Biehle, but the company needs more room. He said Buchheit will be moving that operation to the former Supervalue property, and that work has begun on getting the building ready.

Schott said Scott City maintains a viable economic base, besides being a hub of railroad activity, there are many trucking companies along Nash Road. Rhodes 101, which has many convenience/service stations in the area, is headquartered there. And Minor's Harley-Davidson left Cape Girardeau and moved into a new facility in Scott City earlier this year.

Schott said Havco Wood Products, which makes oak-wood planks for truck beds, is a steady employer as is Blair Industries, which produces customized packing for CDs and videos.

At SEMO Port Authority, plans have been announced to open an industrial tract for potential new businesses, and an infrastructure upgrade soon will commence.

A bridge over Ramsey Creek is expected to be built in a couple years near the industrial park. Schott said that could spur business in that area.

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