Arth planning new venues for old downtown buildings

Richard DuPertuis
Peter Arth stands outside of his new downtown Dunsmuir properties, a landmark bank building dating back 90 years. Arth said that he was disappointed when PremierWest Bank vacated the site last spring, and that he hopes Dunsmuir will have its own bank again someday. His other new holdings include the old Coronet Building on Dunsmuir Avenue and the 1903 Opera House next door to his residence on Sacramento Avenue.

Former Dunsmuir mayor Peter Arth steadied himself on the steep ice coating Pine Street.

He pointed in turn to the empty buildings lining south side of the street: the old Doll Factory, last used as offices for Pusher, Inc.; the former Flower Girl space; the previous location of the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center; the corner spot used by, as Arth puts it, any of a number of hair cutting operations.

And the bank building towering above.

Through his enterprise Bombs Away LLC, Arth owns them all.

"It came in one big chunk, all 8,000 square feet of it," he said standing in the street Saturday.

The properties comprise but a part of his total holdings in town, which include the building now housing the Dunsmuir Community Resource Center, the one housing the Siskiyou Arts Museum, his partner Debra Day's Dogwood Diner and Brown Trout, as well as their residence on Sacramento Avenue.

Then he has tenants lined up for his other properties. Referring to the old Cornet Building, he said, "Since FireWhat is our primary tenant, we'll be finishing it to their specifications," he said. "That will include photovoltaic cells on the entire roof. It'll be the greenest building in town!"

He said Dunsmuir Brewery Works will also be using some of the space under that roof.

As for the bank and its accompanying properties, Arth describes a two-phase plan: "Phase One, we'll rehabilitate all the retail shops," he said. "That means removing the old steam heating systems, repairing floors, and replacing bathrooms. Basically, they're all getting upgrades and repairs so they look attractive to new tenants."

He said he has no preference for the types of businesses that might occupy his retail vacancies.

"Phase Two, we'll deconstruct the bank's main lobby," he said. "Specifically, Ron McCloud has a photograph showing it in the 1920s, with its marble floors and copper ceilings. We are going to take away everything that modernized it away from its original splendor."

He quickly added that he will keep the railroad mural by John Signor.

Arth said that he was disappointed to see PremierWest Bank leave Dunsmuir last spring, that he wanted to find a tenant who would use it as a bank. "One possibility is to work with the Chamber and the City to establish a replica of the Bank of Dunsmuir," he said. "It started out as a local bank."

Back down at 5819 Sacramento Avenue, Arth pointed to plans displayed in the window of the old River Exchange Building. "In the very near future, I am going to lease these two parcels to Victor Martin, so he will have an indoor venue and an outdoor venue."

The name on the plans is Victor Martin's Cultural Center. Arth said he bought the adjacent properties from the Willard Stone estate.

"We purchased with the purpose of having a nightclub on Sacramento Avenue, the old Front Street," he said. "There were lots of nightclubs on Front Street in the day. Up until the end of the stream era, all these buildings had life in them."

He said he had hoped to have all the renovations done for Victor Martin's by New Year's Eve, but because of weather and other delays it will not happen. His best hope now is for a lease by March.

Walking along a snowy path to this home, Arth stops at the old Fabric Train building, the original 1903 opera house. "I do have a tenant in mind. All I have to do is upgrade and come up with a lease amount."

He said the property, immediately next door to his residence, would become a bakery/deli: "As with the bank, I would strongly like to see Dunsmuir have its own bakery again."

Arth said his properties are being managed by Luann Wiegele at Coldwell Banker Realty. Those wishing to inquire for leases or other information may contact her at (530) 235-2600.