Monday evening members of the Plymouth Common Council had a difference of opinions when it came to awarding a Community Revitalization Rebate Grant to George Schricker for his buildings at 113 and 115 North Michigan Street in downtown Plymouth.
Schricker told the City Council he has a major renovation project planned for the property. There are four distinct projects including a new roof, stripping the paint off the bricks, removing the mortar and tuck-point the bricks and then sealing them, painting the windows and lower façade and putting on awnings on the front and then in the back there are two shot-gun sections of roof that extend out that will be torn off and replaced.
Councilman Greg Compton asked about the $45,000 OCRA Grant Schricker was awarded back in early December. The award is for a project to restore the Michigan Street façade and replace the roof of the Balcony Block Building. This Italianate building is a contributing resource in the Plymouth Downtown National Register District. The building is home to Wild Rose Moon, a performing arts and education venue, and the Aldridge Internal Medicine and Family Practice, a professional business. The second floor of this building contains two recently renovated urban loft apartments and one recently renovated small office space.
Local architect Brent Martin told Schricker he could apply for the facade grant opportunity the city has that would reimburse him up to 20% of the entire project. He told the Council that Mayor Senter and the city attorney informed him that he could only apply for the remaining portion of the project not covered by the grant funds.
City Attorney Sean Surrisi said discussions with some of the council members and the Clerk-Treasurer about the state grant award and the request for a 20% match for the entire project. He said the purpose of the project is to incentivize investment in the exterior of the buildings by the property owners. Surrisi questions how much incentivizing there was if the council was paying on the portion the state was already incentivizing by providing grant funding. He said through the existing ordinance it is in the purview of the council to decide if they want to make the full grant.
Councilman Jeff Houin said the ordinance doesn’t address who pays for the improvements but said it is to incentivize improvements throughout the city. He said the application meets all the requirements in the ordinance and felt the full 20% rebate would be applicable.
Councilman Greg Compton said it is up to the council’s discretion. He said, “What we need to keep in mind is, this is all taxpayer’s money. It all comes out of our pockets, the taxpayer even if it’s state or feds put money in, it’s tax money.” He said he was supportive of the improvements but felt that the city should rebate up to 20% of the project not covered by the OCRA grant.
Councilman Duane Culp said while he appreciates the improvements he struggled with the request. He said with the state grant funds being received that the city would be putting additional grant funds on the project that already was being paid for using grant dollars.
Councilman Robert Listenberger asked if the math had been completed on the request. ———– He also asked the Clerk how much was in the account and she said $1.5 million. Listenberger said it’s $7,789.50 if we subtract out the OCRA grant and $15,579 if they apply the 20% on the total cost of the projects. He suggested staying with the current ordinance and rebating the full 20%.
Councilman Don Ecker offered a motion to modify the request of Mr. Schricker. The total cost of the project improvements is $84,109.50 and the OCRA Grant award was $45,162 leaving a balance of $38,947.50. Don’s motion was to allow the 20% match on a total amount of $45,000 taking into consideration the possibility of additional roof repairs as they tear off the old roof. His motion died with four no votes including council members Greg Compton, Jeff Houin, Robert Listenberger, and Shiloh Milner.
Councilman Jeff Houin made the second motion to give Mr. Schricker the 20% match on the full amount of the project which would total a rebate of $15,579. That motion died with council members Duane Culp, Don Ecker, Greg Compton, and Randy Longanecker voting no.
Greg Compton then made a motion to reduce the 20% match by removing the OCRA grant from the cost of the projects giving Schricker a $7,789.50 rebate. That motion passed unanimously although both council members Jeff Houin and Robert Listenberger’s votes were under protest.
The funds used for the city’s façade rebate program came from the sale of the old hospital. The principal remains in the bank and the city uses the interest for the rebate program.