Council right to invest in vacant downtown buildings

THE PLYMOUTH CITY COUNCIL did the right thing for downtown at their June 24 meeting.

The council, despite some opposition, approved spending more than $60,000 from the contingency fund for demolition at two vacant Mill Street buildings that the city took possession of recently after they were foreclosed for back taxes.

At 133 E. Mill St., the city will reroof the building to prevent further interior damage and demolish an addition on the rear of the building that does not match the rest of the historic structure.

At 31 E. Mill St., the city will demolish the collapsing garage attached to the west side of the building.

The projects will make both buildings more attractive to potential buyers and should remove a major impediment to finding a buyer willing to rehabilitate the historic structures.

The proposals drew opposition from Alderman Jim Faller, who termed it throwing good money after bad, called the buildings “an eyesore” and “a hellhole,” and questioned whether the city would get any return on its investment and when.

Fortunately, the rest of the council was not that short-sighted.

The city has made similar investments elsewhere without an immediate prospect of return, but with the long-term economic health of the city in mind.

It’s the way the city created three industrial parks that, over the years, have returned many times more than the original investment to the city’s economy and growth.

Downtown is a vital part of the city, just like its industrial base. It provides jobs. It draws visitor to the city, visitors who spend money here and, in some cases, are enticed to move here and call Plymouth home.

That’s why it’s important for city government to provide support in any way possible for the downtown, to contribute to its continued health and vibrance.

A downtown with ‘eyesores’ and ‘hellholes’ will not attract visitors, will not foster growth, and will not bring money into the city’s economy.

Tearing down unique and historically significant downtown buildings and replacing them with vacant lots, parking lots or modern buildings that do not blend in is not a solution either.

The small investment by the city in two vacant Mill Street buildings, to keep alive the hope that they can be revitalized and become part of a dynamic downtown, is a wise and far-sighted action that will eventually pay dividends – it just takes time, patience and vision, all of which the council fortunately exhibited.

At issue:
31, 133 E. Mill St.
Bottom line:
Worth preserving

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