AMVETS help plaza with a bit of a facelift

Mladen Rudman
The Davis Plaza building along Benning Drive is being refurbished. It is home to AMVETS Post 29.

Thirty years of weather and wear have left their marks on the Davis Plaza building at 106 Benning Drive.

Mark Williams, a.k.a Marko, and his crew, with help from members of the building’s only occupant at the moment, AMVETS Post 29, is refurbishing the 13-unit structure behind Sexton’s Seafood Market.

Motivating the AMVETS effort is Joe Hemphill.

“He saw what I was doing to the building, so he said, let me and the guys help you out,” said Marko. “They really got into the project.”

Hemphill, himself a contractor, had plenty of reasons to lend a hand.

“The place looked so dingy and dull,” he said. “It’s nice to make it look better.”

On a recent cold and windy day, Hemphill was spray-painting a stucco concrete façade.

During the refurbishing, which started months ago, he also has had a chance to mix the stucco “mud” in a wheelbarrow.

“Lifting 80 pound bags of that stuff. … I’m 60,” said Hemphill, smiling through his long gray beard. “It was tough.”

The big man added he enjoys working on the project and a chance to learn new tricks of the construction trade.

AMVETS Post 29 occupies five units of the Davis building.

Marko plans to use one of the units for his Wax on Wheels business, which sells Wax on Wheels franchises, as well as providing the Wax on Wheels auto detailing service. Another unit will be a wholesale shop for auto detailers. The other expected tenant is an association of public art artists.

Along with offering retail space, Marko imagines the upgraded plaza to be a draw for professionals.

Turning dilapidated space into attractive accommodations for shops and offices to draw tenants makes business sense, but Marko also is motivated by another factor.

His father, Robert, is 81 years old and owns the building. The senior Williams wanted the L-shaped structure repaired. Marko hopes to deliver that wish by Christmas.

With Ames Hudson as the general contractor and Davis Plaza project manager, the building and the land it sits on have seen substantial improvements, including installation of a new drainage system.

“It had just gotten into a state of disrepair and it was time,” said Marko. “A good facelift. The whole building is getting a facelift.”