RDA updated on 133 E. Mill plans

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – A USDA Rural Development Economic Development grant could be the next piece of the financing puzzle for restoring the vacant building at 133 E. Mill St.

City Administrator Brian Yerges updated the Redevelopment Authority Thursday on the continuing process of converting the vacant building into a cheese center/store/museum and apartments.

The $300,000 grant, if approved, would put the project at close to $1 million towards a project expected to cost as much as $1.2 million.

Yerges said the city was turned down for a $200,000 facade grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. “That funding tended to go toward larger development projects, but they told us we could apply again in the future,” Yerges told the RDA.

Another funding vehicle the city hopes to utilize is historical tax credits, Yerges said. But, he added, that is contingent on the city’s application for a historic downtown district to be approved by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, which will likely not come until next year.

The city’s consultant on the application, Jennifer Lehrke, has submitted the application, according to Yerges, “but it could be spring 2016 before we get it on the board agenda.”

The reason, he explained, is a long list of applications for historic districts submitted to the society this year. That was the result of concerns that funding for the attendant tax credits would be cut in the state budget. The tax credits were maintained in the approved budget, Yerges noted.

“All our work is done, now it’s just a waiting game,” Yerges said.

Downtown Manager Randy Schwoerer reported that the first Family Fun Day held last month was a success.

He noted that a feature of the event was the ‘touch-a-truck’ display of trucks and large vehicles, which proved popular with both visitors and those who had trucks on display.

“So far everybody I’ve sent e-mails to has said it was a wonderful event and they’re in it again for next year,” Schwoerer said of those who supplied trucks and other vehicles.

Schwoerer also reported many favorable comments on the flowers, flower pots and old bikes that have been converted into planters throughout the downtown.

Yerges reminded RDA members that a public meeting on the Mullet River Corridor Study will be held Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 5 p.m. at the Plymouth Utilities Operations Center.

Yerges said the hope is to get public and private involvement in the plans to help move them forward. “If everybody starts investing in and has a shared vision for downtown, that’s when things become successful,” he commented.

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