Developer Brings New Life To Downtown Brawley
BY CHRIS FURGUSON
Recent activity in the Downtown section of Brawley has sent a pleasant wave through the community. This activity includes clean up of a burned and abandoned building that had been the victim of an arson campaign a few years ago.
“Whoever is fixing those old buildings is a hero in my book,” said Marco Garcia, a mechanic at a Brawley tire store. “When I drove by the old Mona’s Restaurant and saw a bulldozer inside pick up some of the burned bits, I smiled.”
The person in question is William “Billy” Haendiges, a plumbing contractor with the Haendiges Corporation. Haendiges is a third generation plumber from Los Angeles who moved to Brawley with his wife thirteen years ago.
In exclusive comments made to the Weekly-Chronicle, Haendiges said his motivation for restoring Brawley buildings came after restoring his wife’s grandmother’s home in town.
“In the past 13 years, there have been a few buildings that have piqued my interest on my trips to Brawley,” said Haendiges. “Now that I am a resident, I feel a need to invest my back into the community. I feel Brawley has a unique, small-town charm and that if downtown Brawley businesses continue to embrace more of a bouquet style and offer themed services and products that are unique to the town, more development will occur.”
Haendiges had purchased an old Firestone Tire location (which had also been a custom motorcycle shop called “Scorpion Cycles”) through a public auction, attracting the attention of the city.
Currently, Haendiges says he is in talks to purchase the building north of the site (the former Plaza Printers location), continuing the original brown stucco facade to the new location, and will adding the relocating Define Fitness Center to the property.
“Mr. Haendiges has shared his interest in restoration efforts that honor Brawley’s downtown history and architecture,” said City Manager Rosanna Moore. “The City Council is supportive of the revitalization efforts he is undertaking, the transformation of individual properties and the positive momentum in the Downtown Specific Plan Area as a whole.”
Many within the city first became aware of Haendiges’ restoration efforts during the annual Mayor’s Breakfast in late February, just after the purchase of the old building. Earlier this month, a bulldozer could be seen inside the property, cleaning up much of the debris left behind by the October 2012 fire that was
“Mr. Haendiges expeditiously initiated the redevelopment process as soon as he became the owner of record,” added Moore. “[Haendiges] rapidly acted to apply for a demo permit.”
According to the city, the location at 8th and G streets, which also contained the “Top Hat” and “Red Horse” cocktail bars in addition to Mona’s Restaurant, is expected to become a “build-to-suit” strip mall.
“As the City understands it, [Haendiges] aims to demo the interior and retain a number of key elements of the former structure,” added Moore. “He is interested in salvaging building features that can be repurposed.”
Haendiges has his sights set on other properties within the city as well. “My passions in restoring buildings are guided towards lost causes, like historic buildings that are slowing decaying and that typically cost more to retrofit or remove than the current land value.”