Miramar helps businessman remodel


MIRAMAR--Dave Thelwell looked at the decrepit structure that once housed a vehicle detailer known as the "Van Man," and saw potential.

Thelwell said he thought the location, at the corner of Pembroke Road and 62nd Avenue, would be ideal for his Caribbean-American convenience store and T-shirt business, because it is close to both public transportation and State Road 7. But he figured finding money to renovate the site would be difficult.


About a year ago, he asked for help from the city, and was awarded $50,000 from a community development block grant.

He used that money, plus another $35,000, to redo the building. And it was such a dramatic turnaround that the city was named a finalist for a Special Judges Award given by the South Florida chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

"The transition has been fairly remarkable," said Gus Zambrano, Miramar's economic development and revitalization manager.

Since the inception of the rehabilitation program in 2001, about 10 businesses have been approved for facade grants. Other renovations include improvements to a banquet hall and an office building. The city budgeted about $175,000 in October to help business owners make building renovations.

"We disperse based on the need," Zambrano said.

To qualify, businesses must be east of 64th Avenue on either County Line Road or Pembroke Road, along with some sections of State Road 7. They also must submit a site plan to the City Commission for approval.

Zambrano said the city wanted to preserve the smaller mom-and-pop stores and saw that more funds would be needed to make that happen.

"I feel really good about this," Thelwell said, referring to his new venture. "I couldn't have done it without the city's help. They guided me through the entire process."

While the building is not yet occupied, Thelwell said, he expects to be up and running in about a month or two. He is waiting for his air-conditioning system to be installed, he said.

Others interested in applying for the program may contact city planner Richard Hughes in the Community Development Department.

(source) Sun Sentinel (Georgia East) 1-16-05