Funds growing to rehab vacant 133 E. Mill St. building

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The fund to rehabilitate the 133 E. Mill St. building continues to grow.

City Administrator Brian Yerges updated the Redevelopment Authority on the status of the project Thursday. “Things are coming along,” Yerges told the RDA.

The National Park Service has endorsed the vacant building as an historically significant structure, the first step toward gaining a historic preservation tax credit that could be worth about $100,000 toward the $1 million to $1.2 million projected restoration cost, according to Yerges. “We already have up to $800,000 in private funding for the building.”

Plans call for two apartments on the top floor of the building, which was obtained by the city in tax foreclosure. The main floor is envisioned as a cheese store/museum space, with exhibition and storage space in the basement as well.

In order to obtain the tax credit, the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. has agreed to partner with the RDA on the project, making it eligible for the credit, Yerges said.

The city is still awaiting final approval from the state for the historic district designation for downtown Plymouth that would make 133 E. Mill St. and other buildings in the district eligible for state and federal tax credits for renovation and rehabilitation.

“We still have a USDA Rural Development grant application for funding out there,” Yerges continued. That announcement should be coming this month, he said.

While the city’s application for $200,000 from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s Community Development Investment grant was turned down earlier this year, Yerges said the city may resubmit for a lesser amount during the next round of applications.

“We’re trying to look at every single bucket of money,” without utilizing city funds, Yerges emphasized.

RDA Chair Lee Gentine said plans for the upper floor apartments are being finalized and the hope is to put construction of the apartments out for bid in December or January, with construction next spring.

Downtown Manager Randy Schwoerer said preliminary steps are underway for creating a business improvement district for downtown Plymouth.

Informational meetings are planned in the near future with downtown business and property owners, he said, in hopes of spurring interest in creating the BID.

“It will not work unless local businesses buy into it. It can’t be pushed by the city or the RDA,” Yerges said of the BID.

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