Downtown manager on board soon

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – A downtown manager will be in place before the end of the month.

Redevelopment Authority Chair Lee Gentine reported that news to the group Thursday.

“My hope is we would have this person on board by the first of August by the latest and they will be off and running at that point,” Gentine said.

Out of a pool of 20 to 25 applicants, city and Chamber of Commerce officials selected four candidates to interview, Gentine said.

A final candidate has been selected from those finalists, he added. Gentine said he and City Administrator Brian Yerges, along with chamber and downtown officials, will be meeting with that person shortly to go over job duties and expectations.

Gentine said the final candidate has previous experience managing a business improvement district, along with other business and marketing experience.

The part-time position is being funded on a two-year basis with a grant from the Lakeshore Community Foundation. The foundation, located in Manitowoc, is serving as a conduit for funds solicited from private donors in Plymouth for the position.

The foundation will pay the grant money to the city, which in turn will then pass it on to the chamber to administer.

“The (downtown manager) will be attending each of our meetings to give us an update on what’s been happening each month,” Gentine told the RDA. “They will report to the chamber board at least on a quarterly basis, more often if needed.”

The new downtown manager will have office space in the Burkart Insurance building at 118 Stafford St.

The group gave its approval to demolition work on vacant buildings at 31 and 133 E. Mill St., and answered criticism of the city’s spending on both buildings.

“It would be difficult to get anything built (on either property) that would be equal in character and quality,” to the existing historic buildings, RDA member Jackie Jarvis commented.

RDA member Carole O’Malley pointed out that tearing the buildings down and leaving the lots vacant or turning them into parking or park space would result in a loss of property tax revenue to the city.

Gentine also pointed out that there are flood plain issues that could impact putting up a new building at 133 E. Mill St. if the existing building there is torn down.

“With 133, if it is torn down, something else could be built there but it would probably be a smaller building,” Yerges said. “But it would definitely not be anything close to the character of what is there today. Ninety percent of the time, when buildings get torn down in the downtown, they are not rebuilt.”

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