Re-painting iconic Purina tower is EDA’s newest pet project

by | Apr 13, 2024 | ALLFFP, Fredericksburg, News

A proposal to re-paint the iconic Purina tower in downtown Fredericksburg garnered unanimous support among the Economic Development Authority on Friday.

In a 15-minute special meeting of the EDA, M.C. Morris, assistant director of tourism, offered an overview of the project to the group.

“Many of you recall, at the June 2023 meeting, Garrett Green spoke to you about a proposal to paint the tower located at 401 Charles Street,” said Morris, who mentioned that the tower first went up around 1919 and gained its recognizable red checkerboard pattern in 1981. It was last painted in 1999.

Green, who runs Green Fitness and Wellness in the adjacent building, had initially approached the EDA wanting to make the tower part of a tourism initiative since it is so well-known and sits close to the train station. A branding and trademark issue was raised, and the project stalled for a year.

“I had just about given up on this,” Green said.

In the meantime, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the city had earmarked to renovate space for a new visitors center were repurposed. The leftover amount could now be used to fund the painting project.

Upon further research, the city determined that it would not have to authorize any of the work as it was a painted structure historically and a privately-owned building. Green contacted lawyers and spoke with representatives from Nestle, who owns the Purina brand.

The proposed color palette retains the historic colors of the building but inverts the colors to eliminate the concern of possible brand allusion or consequential legal challenges by Purina.

“There was so many hurdles to jump in the design,” Green said. “So we just decided to flip the colors in the checkerboard. The top will be all white now, which helps with maintenance. It’s really hard to paint that high up with a cherry picker.”

Green said he has had several suggestions on what would go in the circle portion of the design, but he is moving forward with the painting next month.

The $50,000 proposal means the city would reimburse the EDA with ARPA funds and the project would have to be completed by June 30. Green said he thinks a celebration of some sort will be in order once the job is finished.

“Yes, it’s my tower and I own it. But it belongs to the city and the community,” he said. “It’s an icon and it’s a way to put our stamp on the city. It’s going to be a great change.”

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