RDA endorses incentive offer for 133 E. Mill St.

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – There could be an added incentive for someone willing to rehabilitate the vacant building at 133 E. Mill St.

The Redevelopment Authority voted Thursday to recommend that the City Council offer a $15,000 incentive to anyone who would purchase and renovate the cityowned property.

RDA member Jackie Jarvis proposed the alternative, pointing out that it is about the amount the city would have to pay to tear down the structure. She suggested making the incentive offer available for a year.

City Administrator Brian Yerges reported that the estimate the city has received to tear down the building is $16,500.

He added that city officials have estimated that it could cost $100,000 to $150,000 to completely rehabilitate the building.

That includes new plumbing, electrical, insulation, repairing a structural beam and a crack in the front facade, and converting the first floor from residential to commercial use to meet city codes, according to Yerges.

“It depends on how much sweat equity (a new owner) wants to put into it,” RDA Chair Lee Gentine said of the rehabilitation cost estimate.

The only dissenting vote on recommending the incentive plan came from Alderman Greg Hildebrand, a member of the RDA.

He questioned whether the city should wait any longer to find a successful buyer for the long-vacant building.

“We’ve been in this so long, enough is enough,” Hildebrand stated.

“This is a new approach,” RDA member Carole O’Malley responded. “We’ve got nothing to lose by waiting.”

Jarvis noted that the city had two interested parties enter agreements with the RDA to buy the building only to have the deals fall through.

“And that was without subsidizing the deal,” Downtown Manager Randy Schwoerer pointed out.

The incentive still must be approved by the City Council.

Gentine and Yerges updated the RDA on the other vacant downtown building the city is attempting to revitalize at 31 E. Mill St.

Gentine said work on the building could begin as early as next March. Plans are to put two apartments on the upper floor and convert the lower floor into a cheese center.

“We had talked about a budget of $1.2 million for the entire project,” Gentine said. He added that architect Jennifer Lohrke had suggested a budget of $1.5 million to include any contingencies.

“We have a total of $1.2 million right now,” Yerges said. That includes grants and other funding sources.

The process of obtaining historic preservation tax credits for the project are proceeding, Yerges added. That credit would add another $300,000 to the project funding.

The city is also reapplying for a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Yerges continued.

The city was turned down for a $200,00 grant last year and will seek $100,000 this time around, Yerges told the RDA.

Schwoerer reported that a meeting is being planned for sometime in January to explain the process of creating a business improvement district in the city.

The hope is that a BID could be created to provide funding for the downtown manager position in the future.

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