Sylvania officials Monday revealed that a new business tenant has expressed interest in moving into the downtown area and could drop an additional $1 million annually in revenues into city coffers. But improvements need to be made to the site to reel the tenant in.
Mayor Craig Stough said that an “office type user” is interested in being a tenant in the Maplewood Marketplace, on Maplewood Avenue.
He said the city has received interest in part of the space, which is currently an unfinished garage, and that the potential company would “bring a million-dollar payroll into our downtown.”
“It's the extra traffic downtown. The extra people using the stores, visiting the restaurants, providing more of a destination to the downtown,” the mayor said of the potential monetary benefits.
The business potential was discussed during a finance and building grounds subcommittee meeting Monday night.
Mayor Stough said that some improvements would have to be made to the existing space on Maplewood to keep the potential buyer's interest. The city made improvements to the front of the building a few years ago and several businesses are housed there now, however, the interested tenant would move into the rear of the building.
“In order to bring him in there, we're going to have to provide improvements to that space. Those improvements will allow us to bring in a rent increase that will help us provide new operating funds for the Historical Village Commission,” the mayor said of the historical building.
The committee estimated the improvements would cost about $500,000, and agreed to authorize the city's clerk to advertise for bids for the improvements.
City officials did not offer details of the potential deal or the individual or business that expressed interest. City council will offer an update at its Dec. 17 meeting.
During an economic development subcommittee meeting that was also held Monday, Bill Sanford, director of economic development, told members of the committee he wanted to continue a partnership with Poggemeyer Design Group, the firm that originally designed the city's downtown marketing plan.
“I wanted to continue to be able to work with Poggemeyer Design,” he said, adding that he hopes the company will help the city find and apply for grant funding.
He proposed that a retainer would not exceed $1,500 per month, and that some months, the city would not use the company's assistance. Originally, the city was counting on grant funds from the state.
Council member Doug Haynam expressed skepticism that grant funding from the Ohio Comprehensive Downtown Revitalization Tier Two program, which was discontinued for this year, would be returning.
“I believe that when I see it. I'm not at all confident that there's money in the budget to reinstate,” he said.
“I am skeptical about spending additional money to further do the work that is outlined in the grant.”
Mr. Haynam said it would make sense to keep Poggemeyer on staff, to help with grant writing.
Council member Mike Brown urged fellow members to look at the case from more than just budgetary issues.
“We look at it from a budget standpoint, but we also need to look at it from a return on investments standpoint,” he said. “I think we need to look at it from that point also, not strictly from whether or not it fits in the budget.”
During a full council meeting later, council members voted unanimously to continue to partner with Poggemeyer Design Group for $1,500 a month.
Mr. Sanford praised the Downtown Sylvania Association for the strides they have made toward fostering community engagement, which he said is moving forward with the city's downtown revitalization efforts.
“The association has done really well ... they are organizing regular activities, they have a good membership — it's doing exactly what we wanted it to do.
"It's on the right road,” he said.
Contact Kelly McLendon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-206-0356, or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.