Sale of 31 E. Mill St. building approved by RDA

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The city has found a new buyer for the vacant old building at 31 E. Mill St.

A little over a year after a previous sale fell through, the Redevelopment Authority Thursday approved the sale of the vacant city-owned building to New Zealander Steven Hobbs for $7,000.

Hobbs, who has been involved in other building renovations in Sheboygan County, including the Wisconsin Woodworking building in Sheboygan, plans to restore the Mill Street building to a mixed commercial/residential use.

The new buyer was present for the RDA meeting and outlined some of his plans for the group.

Hobbs explained that he often works with his father on building projects and would like to restore the upper level of the Mill Street building to provide living space for his father, who lives in New Zealand, when he is in Sheboygan County on projects.

He plans to convert the first floor into commercial space, although he had no specific use in mind at present.

“I’m very excited about this project,” Hobbs told the authority members.

The city had reached an agreement to sell the building to Scott Weigert of Sheboygan Falls for $15,000 in late 2013, but that deal fell through and the building went back on the market.

The RDA purchased the long-vacant building in early 2013 from foreclosure for $14,651.

The purchase will also include a developer’s agreement calling for Hobbs to restore the building in a manner consistent with its historic nature and the rest of the downtown.

It also calls for the restoration work to be completed by June 30, 2016.

“We’d like you or your representative to meet with this committee every three months just to keep us updated on your progress,” RDA chair Lee Gentine told Hobbs.

City Administrator Brian Yerges advised Hobbs that the pending designation of downtown Plymouth as a historic district would make his project eligible for state and federal tax credits.

Yerges told the RDA that the city’s application for the historic district has been funded by a grant from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Gentine said the grant money would pay for the cost of Jennifer Lehrke of Legacy Architects filing the necessary applications with state and federal officials to gain the historic district designation.

Downtown Manager Randy Schwoerer reported that the Downtown Plymouth Association is completing the process of becoming more structured, including applying for 501(c)(3) non-profit status and electing officers.

“Everybody is physically and financially buying into the program,” Schwoerer said of the downtown business group.

“Right now, the vibe downtown is really something,” he continued. “It’s like a snowball that has gotten to the top of the hill and is now rolling downhill.”

One sign of that growing support, Schwoerer noted, is the fact that participating businesses have agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds from future events to the DPA to provide it with funds for future promotions and events.

“Our next challenge is going to be sustainability for that structure, and Randy is aware of that,” Yerges said of the DPA.

The DPA is continuing to work on a schedule of promotional events for the coming year, Schwoerer said.

Gentine reported that work is continuing on a new logo for Plymouth – Cheese Capital of the World. The city registered the slogan late last year and hopes to begin utilizing it – and the new logo – in promotion and advertising for downtown and the city.

“We’re going to continue to work on it. We want to get it right,” Yerges said of the logo design.

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