A new facade draws eyes to Newton Eyecare

You’d expect a doctor to keep an eye out for the latest technology to improve his business. But Dr. Lee Newton also keeps one eye on how to make his building more physically appealing.

The process of creating a plan for building improvements took over half a decade, but Newton unveiled a new facade at his 3720 Wilder Road building late last year.

The freestanding, modern-looking facade updates the commercial building near the corner of Wilder Road and Shrestha Drive. The single-story building has been home to Newton Eyecare Center since 2007.

Rush Stationers built the pole-barn style building in the late 1980s. Then, Shrestha Drive didn’t exist. Now, Shrestha Drive winds around to connect Euclid Avenue with Wilder Road. Along the drive, you'll pass medical offices, the Bay County Civic Arena, and Tri-City Brewing Company.

Over the years, Newton made a few improvements to the building. He added on to accommodate commercial rental space in 2011. All the while, he watched the design of the new buildings going in near his office. Eventually, he decided it was time to improve his facility.

“The building was tired. It always sat too low for how far back it was from Wilder Road,” he says. “With all the new development back on Shrestha Drive, the medical offices and such, I just felt like not only am I one of the oldest buildings around, I am also one of the ugliest.”

Dr. Lee Newton, along with his wife Molly Newton, improved his building facade to keep pace with other new developments in the area.In 2015, he started looking at ways to refresh the appearance of his building. At first, he considered a parapet wall, which would take the front of the building up several feet. He soon learned the existing structure wouldn’t support more than two feet. He started sketching ideas for a free-standing facade.

“I got those ideas in front of a structural engineer and then he specked out the footing sizes.” That wasn’t feasible either. I got frustrated. Then a lightbulb went off that said, ‘Hey, I’m not an architect.’ I’ve had a good relationship with Pumford Construction,” so he put in a call.

Within a short time, Pumford’s chief architect came up with some plans for a facelift.

“I think I surprised them that I went with it right away. It was a little bit contemporary and a little bit different. There are no other buildings that look like that, and that’s why I went with it right away. I said, ‘I love it – let’s do it!’ ”

The columns went up, the panels went up, and the lighting was connected by early December.

Keep watching the space. “I’m not done yet,” Newton says. “I want to transform the appearance of the rest of the building to make it look more contemporary, new, and professional.”

Even before he starts that additional work, Newton says he’s already attracted new patients due to the improved appearance. That’s not the reason he made the changes, though.

“I wanted to leave it better than I found it. It’s one thing to paint and tuck-point the brick, but I wanted to do one project to make it really nice and make a difference. That way I feel like I’m leaving that building better than I found it when I’m ready to not own that building anymore.”