Ajo Group Gets $1.1M Federal Loan To Help Preserve Iconic Town Plaza
The U.S. Department of Agriculture hands out loans for rural development projects. A tiny town between Yuma and Tucson with iconic architecture is getting one.
The town square of former mining community Ajo, Arizona, has the local library, post office and thrift store.
“It’s this beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival, arcaded plaza with central green space,” said Aaron Cooper, executive director of the International Sonoran Desert Alliance.
The plaza has a north and south building, white-washed and flanking a lage green park area. East of the area is an old train station, also owned by the ISDA. West of the plaza are two white churches, both distinct in their architecture. Continue west and there is the huge mining pit that Ajo was built for, to help support miners and other industries in town.
The Alliance just got a $1.1 million federal loan to buy the Ajo Plaza.
The money will go to help pay off debt so the ISDA can move forward with redevelopment projects so the town, without the mining industry, stays on the map.
The ISDA originally bought the plaza with an LLC back in 2008 and has been losing money on the project because of problems leasing space.
“The sorts of investments we had been able to funnel through to it to start to redevelop it, all of that was at risk,” Cooper said.
The Ajo loan is one of 50 rural community facility direct loans the USDA gave out to 22 states this year. Other loans went to rural hospitals and food banks.