Cheese center agreements approved by council, RDA

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – All the documents are approved and everything is set for work to begin on the Plymouth Cheese Center downtown.

After the City Council Tuesday approved a small stack of documents, the Redevelopment Authority gave their nod Thursday to the various agreements covering the renovation of the vacant building at 133 E. Mill St.

Under the agreements, the building will be turned over to the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. Foundation. The foundation will contract with the RDA to manage and operate the building, which will include two or three apartments and feature a combined cheese heritage center and cheese store on the main floor and basement area.

“The biggest reason for the (foundation) to be part of the project comes back to the tax credit,” City Administrator Brian Yerges told the council.

Those are historic preservation tax credits, up to $200,000, which are part of the $1.85 million financing package for the project.

City Attorney Crystal Fieber said the closing date for the transfer to the foundation is Aug. 5. Work on renovating the vacant building should begin soon after that, Yerges added. The city is still waiting for final state approval of the project plans.

The foundation has to hold the building for a minimum of five years in order for the project to qualify for the tax credits, Yerges told the RDA. “In up to 10 years, the city or the RDA can buy the building back for $1,” he added.

Another component of the financing is a $400,000 USDA grant. The SCEDC was vital for that piece of the project as well, Yerges noted.

The grant funds can only be loaned to a nonprofit agency, he explained. The money will be repaid to the city and will become a revolving economic development loan fund for the city , according to Yerges.

“It’s taken a lot of patience to get here,” Mayor Donald Pohlman told the RDA members at their meeting. “Hats off to everybody. This could not have been done without a dozen partners across the board.”

“We are honored to even be considered to be a partner in this,” SCEDC Executive Director Dane Checolinski told the council. “We’re glad to facilitate a small part of helping the community turn a liability into an asset.”

Council President Charles Hansen praised Yerges and RDA Chair Lee Gentine for their efforts on what he termed “a great project.”

Pohlman praised the RDA for taking the lead on the project. “You’ve seen an opportunity and that’s started to materialize. Things are starting to come together because you took the initiative and said we need to do something for the downtown.”

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