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Best Friends Mentoring getting new facade

Best Friends Mentoring is getting a new facade. The building at 135 W. Villard St., owned by A&F Properties, is also the site of Westwind Counseling Center. The improvements will be partly funded with a community enhancement grant from Stark ...

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The Best Friends Mentoring and Westwind Counseling building is getting a new facade. A&F Properties received a $20,000 grant for the project from Stark Development Corp. on Tuesday. The building is 118 years old. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Best Friends Mentoring is getting a new facade.

The building at 135 W. Villard St., owned by A&F Properties, is also the site of Westwind Counseling Center.

The improvements will be partly funded with a community enhancement grant from Stark Development Corp. ,which approved $20,000 Tuesday, April 17, half of the project's $40,000 cost.

Scull Construction of Dickinson will serve as the contractor.

The building is more than a century old, Kris Fehr, A&F property manager and Best Friends executive director, said.

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"The west half of this building was built in 1900, and the addition on the east end was built in 1910," Fehr said. "As you see it today is how it looked back then."

The site has been many things in its history, including the Chamber of Commerce and, at the time A&F bought it, an insurance agency.

Adjacent to the North Pacific rails, it began as a lumberyard.

"You didn't have to worry about it because it was an industrial area," Fehr said, "and now that has really changed, being across from the bank."

The project is one Fehr has long pursued.

"I worked with the same contractor for four years. I'm done now," she said. "I'm working with Scull, and we will be done this year. I'm finally getting this project off the ground."

The facade will be repainted. Colors from the mural by artist Guillermo Avalos on its east wall will be incorporated. The shutters, the runner, and overhang will be removed, and there will be new lighting.

The building's recognizable vertical sign, with an outdated Best Friends Mentoring logo, will be repositioned to the west end of the building.

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"We want to keep the historical part, but also soften it," Fehr said, "because if you drive by, don't you just think, why don't they do something with it? It's so big, it's right there and it doesn't blend in with anything."

A dark gray siding will be added to veil dirt from splashing melted snow.

"One of the problems we have is when the streets are plowed, people drive by and they splash up on the building," Fehr said. "We're looking at a darker color so it doesn't look so bad."

The grant is one of the first to be awarded in 2018, Ryan Jilek, Stark Development Corp. vice president, said.

"We are very fortunate to be able to work with our business community and be a part of enhancing their appearance, as well as the overall image of the communities in Stark County," Jilek said. "We are excited to see the changes these efforts are bringing to the communities we serve."

Fehr expects work on the facade renovations to start this summer, as early as July.

"We're on Scull's schedule for this year," she said. "So it will be finished this year."

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