Writer Lara Piu

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s one of the first buildings constructed in Carefree, the Historic Spanish Village along Ho Hum Road has long been one of the town’s cultural and art hubs.

Owners Bruce and Kim Raskin recently renovated the mall after acquiring it less than a year ago. World-renowned artist Ray Villafane, whose work has been commissioned across the globe, is now among several new tenants who have signed a rental lease agreement and will now call it their home.

“Kim and I are extremely excited about the progress we have made returning the property to its original appearance and about all of our new tenants,” Bruce says.

A new website, social media presence and monthly event lineup have also been developed to revive one of Carefree’s first shopping destinations back to its former glory. The landlords hope to enhance the vibrancy and culture of downtown Carefree and attract visitors year-round.

“I’m pleased to see entrepreneurs working together to make their businesses thrive,” says Carefree Mayor Les Peterson. “People attract people, and that’s in alignment with our core marketing strategy of executing signature events that support building a strong economic engine. The new culture and vibe of the Historic Spanish Village is very promising, attractive and exciting to the entire community.”
Located at 7208 E. Ho Hum Rd., Historic Spanish Village has eight new operating tenants. Bobbi Maione owns and operates Que Bella Salon, which provides professional nail services in current and classic styles. The salon joined the village last year along with Carefree Home Systems, which is owned by David Marsh.

Artist Michelle Micalizzi’s new Fearless Art Works is a 2,212-square-foot art gallery that has already hosted seven events in its first two months of operation, with more planned throughout the year. The venue connects art, businesses and the community at large to do good works of every kind, and offers yoga classes in the space, as well.

Nanci Kelleher, a local designer specializing in Southwestern desert style, now offers handbags, old doors, fabrics, pillows and one-of-a-kind home decor pieces at Hermosa Interiors and Design.

Her neighbor is Ray Villafane of Villafane Studios. The Raskins commissioned the artist to create the new sand sculpture of a desert toad that is now on display in the courtyard. The installation is called “Señor Sapo.”

“Together we have made plans to add more of his art to enliven our beautiful courtyards,” Bruce adds, explaining plans for Ray to install a scarecrow and pumpkins this fall.

In September, longtime Carefree resident Cesar Chacon will launch La Boulangerie, a gourmet bakery shop. It will be adjacent to Black Mountain Coffee Shop, an original tenant of the Village that has been there since the late ‘70s.

This fall, art gallery Adelante, currently located at el Pedregal, will be moved to Historic Spanish Village. Plans for a new restaurant are also in the works.