Grove City Council gave its approval last week for a local business owner to renovate another historical Town Center building.
At its meeting April 21, council voted unanimously to grant an "Exceptional Circumstance" that will increase the maximum amount of city money available for a proposed building restoration for the former Grove City Hardware Store, 3989 Broadway. The money sought is through the city's Town Center Commercial Revitalization Grant Program.
The grant program reimburses local businesses, nonprofits, not-for-profits and building owners for commercial buildings and core area properties' improvement projects, and the maximum amount award is $10,000 per year. However, with this exceptional circumstance, the city will grant a total of $60,000 over the course of three years.
Matt Yerkes, owner of Quick Square Consulting and Venue 62 at 3995 Broadway, located next door and in the same building as the vacant hardware store, is looking to purchase and renovate the 8,200 square feet of space.
He plans space for multiple shops and businesses in the renovated building. Yerkes said the upper floor could house offices while the bottom floor could be used for retail and possibly small restaurant or cafe space. He is having an architectural review conducted now.
The building itself, he said, requires about $400,000 worth of renovations, including major structural issues.
"(It's) probably a full year before we get it ready to rent it out," Yerkes said.
The building was built in 1915. It was the old Mulzer Garage as well as the site of what is believed to be the first car dealership in Grove City. The hardware store opened in 1945 and closed about 10 years ago.
This is not the first historic Town Center building Yerkes has sought to renovate. His current businesses operate out of the former Kenstar Pharmacy, which had closed in 2009 and Quicksquare moved into in 2011.
The project also comes with the support of Grove City Town Center Inc. The organization's board of directors previously voted to recommend council grant the exceptional circumstance.
Andy Furr, executive director of Grove City Town Center Inc., said there have been a number of discussed plans for the vacant store that fell by the wayside, but Yerkes has proven himself with the work on the former pharmacy.
"(Yerkes) has done a good job on renovations to bring the building back to life," Furr said. "We think he'll do just as good of a job on the hardware store."
To qualify for an exceptional circumstance, a project must meet three of seven criteria: enhance the vitality and appearance of the Town Center, create jobs, result in the leveraging of additional economic investment and activity, utilize sustainable building and site design concepts, meet a needed goal or service in the Town Center Plan, maintain and enhance exterior structures and their interior facilities, and update the building to meet code requirements.
Grove City Administrator Chuck Boso said this project meets at least six of the requirements.
Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said the project is doing exactly what the city wants.
"It's a textbook, good downtown revitalization," Stage said.
Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw noted in her native country of Cuba, old buildings are collapsing every day, but no one is able to do much about that.
"Thank you for doing this," she said to Yerkes. "This makes me happy."
Councilwoman Laura Lanese voted for the exceptional circumstance but said she had concerns about the Town Center Commercial Revitalization Grant Program, mainly how easily a for-profit business that might not need taxpayer money can meet the criteria to receive grants -- and keep coming back year after year.
"I think this building in particular is deserving of this award," she said.
Stage said the criteria was designed to be easily met and repeat applicants are encouraged.