Forward momentum continues for 133 E. Mill St.

THE CITY CONTINUES TO make good progress in the effort to rehabilitate the vacant building at 133 E. Mill St.

The Redevelopment Authority, which took possession of the building in tax foreclosure, has some exciting ideas to bring it back to life.

The plan is to convert the building into a cheese center/store/museum with apartments on the second floor, with the goal of being a selfsustaining operation.

If it comes to fruition, it would be an exciting and positive addition to a downtown that is fighting its way back to viability and importance.

Paying homage to the industry that made Plymouth famous, the proposed cheese center could provide a focal point for downtown visitors as well as serve as still another attraction for visitors.

Add it to the two-dozen murals sprinkled through downtown, our iconic cow statue, a variety of quaint and unique shops, a full menu of great eating (and meeting) places and a string of preserved historic buildings, and you’ve got an even greater draw to bring the many visitors who come to Sheboygan County to downtown Plymouth to visit and spend their money.

Finding a new and exciting use for one of downtown’s historic buildings is certainly a far, far better alternative to tearing it down and leaving another gaping hole along Mill Street. The RDA and city officials deserve credit and support for their efforts to save 133 E. Mill St.

It will not be easy – or cheap. Estimates are that the project could cost $1 million to $1.2 million – and estimates sometimes have a nasty habit of turning out low, though certainly not always.

The project took a major step forward earlier this summer when the city received a $500,000 grant for the Plymouth Downtown Community Incentives Fund through the Lakeshore Community Foundation in Manitowoc. The money is earmarked for the restoration project at 133 E. Mill St.

Then the City Council gave preliminary approval to an application for a $300,000 USDA Rural Development Economic Development grant for the project. The grant requires a local match of 20 percent and City Administrator Brian Yerges has proposed using $100,000 from Tax Incremental Finance District funds to meet the match requirement and bring the total for the project to $900,000.

The grant is not assured, but the city was successful just a few years ago in receiving a similar grant for the GTS project.

An added benefit of this grant, if the city’s application is successful, is that the money when repaid could be used to enhance the city’s economic development revolving loan fund – a tool the city has utilized successfully many, many times over the past three decades.

All in all, the city continues to make great strides in the effort to save 133 E. Mill St. It’s an effort that, if successful, will bring multiple benefits to the city, its residents, its businesses and, most importantly, downtown Plymouth.

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