Crowds at Bob McFadden Plaza may be too busy enjoying the new outdoor venue to notice the facelift happening to buildings that surround it.
Mark Lopiccolo, owner of the St. Charles Hotel and 224 S. Carson St., the building that starts at Carson Street with Mom & Pop’s Diner and runs back to Curry Street where Bella Fiore Wines is located,
is fixing up the exteriors of both structures.
Replacing siding on 224 S. Carson St., Lopiccolo has improvised with tin roof tiles taken from the old V&T Railroad depot at the Stewart Indian School.
“They’re from about 1890. I know the guy who tore them out and he saved them all. I bought the last 318 of them,” he said.
Lopiccolo, a building contractor, placed the tiles himself, using the original nails still attached to the tin.
“It took me three- or four-days,” he said.
Underneath that’s new wainscoting made of stone veneer that also wraps around a couple posts attached to sidewalk overhangs.
“It’s maintenance free,” said Lopiccolo.
The remaining siding is being replaced in some spots and repainted in others, overhangs are being redone with corrugated roofs and window frames replaced at Mom & Pop’s.
The round sign above the diner entrance that reads “3rd and Curry” is going to remain.
“Bob McFadden did that,” said Lopiccolo.
Work for now is focused on 224 S. Carson St., but the large posts between the St. Charles Hotel balcony and the Firkin & Fox patio below have already been replaced.
“It’s one of those things, where do you stop?” he said. “It will go on until it’s done. I’m having fun with it.”
Lopiccolo hopes to finish up the work by Nevada Day.
The exterior work on both buildings are two of the nine projects approved under the city’s new Downtown Facade Improvement Program, which provides matching funds up to $25,000 for improvements to buildings in redevelopment areas 1 and 2.
Lopiccolo also plans to add an ice cream shop in the building’s one vacant space.
“We’re talking to a couple people, but we’ll do it ourselves if we have to,” he said.
A freezer in the vacant space, which is being remodeled, is stocked with Hoch Family ice cream from the 61 year-old Minden creamery Lopiccolo sold at the plaza’s recent grand opening.
An ice cream shop may be a smart addition with the splash pad for kids the main attraction at the plaza, as is a hot dog stand Doug Cramer hopes to put in.
Mom & Pop’s owner is working to get a special use permit to sell Caspers hot dogs and other prepared food from a stand outside the restaurant.
Cramer already has approval to add two large, attached gazebos to provide shade for a dozen or so tables outside.
So far, he said, the plaza completion has been a help after months of construction, but Carson Street is still a work in progress so disruptions aren’t over yet.
“Business is picking up slowly,” said Cramer.