McManus breathes new life into old Imperial Stores home

May 22, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

If it looks a little like a gaslamp district on the south side of the 500 block of Main Street in El Centro, it's because of the old-style lamps brought back to life on the McManus Merchandise Mart building at 525 Main.

Owner Rick McManus bought the former Imperial Stores building about a year ago and has completed a remodeling on the first floor, while the third floor is being transformed from a warehouse to a showroom, which should be completed in June.

"We've put this building back to work," he said. "It's been like a dormant dinosaur for many years."

The 40,000 square-foot building was built about 1929. It is home to such businesses as Scratch 'n Dent Office Furniture — now changing its name to Home & Office Unlimited, Furniture for Less; Green's Jewelry and Kearny and Co.


McManus said the first floor underwent extensive remodeling to remove the fixtures left over from the Imperial Stores gift shop and it was repainted inside and out. The front and back façades were repainted from pink and gray to beige. The building took on its new name.

McManus said he received help from the city Redevelopment Agency façade program for the front and back.

In addition to remodeling the interior and outside, two offices were added on the ground floor, as well as a rear entrance to the city-owned parking lot and landscaping. Two rear entrances also received terra-cotta-colored canopies.

The building includes a mezzanine, a third floor and a basement. The top and bottom floors are each 10,000 square feet and are full of furniture for the Scratch 'n Dent side of the business.

The mezzanine has an Avon products office.

From the basement one can see the old glass-brick sidewalk that is now covered by tile.

The new name also adorns the building's front and it's the front where the four old-style lamps are located.

"They give the building something special," McManus said.

Atop the lamps are crowns, a reference to Imperial, as in Imperial Stores and Imperial County.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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