Michael Todd thinks big. When he learned the block of historic buildings which houses his Desert Star Playhouse in downtown Murray was threatened, he could have simply decided to move his theater elsewhere. Concerned about the loss of such a large group of historic buildings and the fate of the tenants who occupied them, he aggressively pursued funding to purchase and rehab the properties.
The project involves three large buildings on State Street built between 1915 and 1955. By the 1990s, their historic storefronts had been replaced with inappropriate materials and damaged from frequent sign alterations. The apartments above were run-down and in violation of current housing codes. Michael Todd began by removing all the non-historic finishes and renovating the storefronts to match their original appearance. He rehabilitated the first floor retail spaces in two of the buildings and adapted the third for office space. On the upper levels, Todd created a total of 28 attractive units of subsidized low-income housing.
This massive project has not only preserved the integrity of the last remaining historic commercial district on State Street, but also served as a catalyst for further revitalization in Downtown Murray. Murray City recently approved a plan for a new historic streetscape design as well as a new historic preservation ordinance and other property owners have expressed interest in rehabbing their own historic buildings.