Alverson feels most at home downtown
Occupation: Owner of Home Again Consignment Home Furnishings
Favorite book: "The Sanity of Madness"
Favorite movie: "Mama Mia"
Mentor: "So many really gracious people who have welcomed me to Janesville and encouraged me."
JANESVILLE A short stroll through downtown Janesville several years ago left Jim Alverson scratching his head.
What a beautiful downtown, the visitor from the Madison area thought to himself.
But why so many empty buildings and storefronts?
"It really puzzled me," said Alverson, who at the time had just sold his interest in a Sylvan Learning Center in Madison and was starting a new chapter in his life.
Alverson came to Janesville to check out a business opportunity: a coffee cart at the Hedberg Public Library.
That didn't work out, but Alverson bought a house downtown and settled in to help restore vitality to the inner city.
"I was doing the retirement thing, but I'd done that before, and it always made nervous," he said. "So I decided to buy some buildings."
He bought buildings on West Milwaukee Street to house a shop he would soon open, Home Again Consignment Home Furnishings.
Since his arrival, Alverson has adopted downtown Janesville.
He is a past president of the city's Downtown Business Association, which merged with the Downtown Development Alliance.
Alverson had to decline that group's presidency because he was too busy with his own ventures, which besides business owner include being a downtown commercial and residential landlord.
Last summer, Alverson was an active supporter of a Business Improvement District for the downtown.
The effort failed, but Alverson's commitment hasn't.
BID opponents said the downtown had improved and would continue to improve without a structured approach. In an effort to understand that thinking, Alverson walked the entire downtown and compared it with what he could remember from his initial stroll in 2003.
"The downtown is far more attractive today," he said. "There are fewer empty buildings."
For that, he credits many things, including the structured DDA and the Janesville Design & Development Center.
"But I'm impatient," he said.
Alverson's more than impatient, said Christine Moore, director of the design center.
He owns property, improves property and often pays for beautification efforts out of his own pocket, she said. In addition to running a highly successful business, he pays attention to what's going on in other communities and routinely offers ideas to make the downtown better.
"I wish we could clone him," Moore said. "He's constant in his enthusiasm and support."
Larry Squire of Johnson Bank worked closely with Alverson on the BID proposal.
"He's so genuine in his commitment," Squire said. "He's also knowledgeable and thoughtful. I've been in many meetings with him where he thinks things out instead of trying to be the first person to throw an idea out."
Alverson attributes his commitment to a lifelong appreciation of downtowns and their histories
"Downtown is a way of life," Alverson said. "It's a sense of commitment to neighbors and businesses, an alternative to all the other good things a city has to offer."