The Village of Marcellus and Downtown Development Authority exercised the right amount of patience and perseverance and can finally announce they’ve assumed ownership of one of Marcellus’ historic buildings. The building, known currently as the Tailgater, was formerly Pep’s, a theatre, a pool hall, farm store, clothing store and ice cream shop.
Cue Petula Clark – When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go, Downtown. When you’ve got worries all the noise and the hurry seems to help, I know – Downtown. . .
And there will be no finer place in the not too distant future – downtown Marcellus. . . the home of the Wildcats.
While most of the visible activity in Marcellus is currently big equipment, deep holes, mounds of earth, orange cones and blocked streets, just you wait. The team effort between the Village of Marcellus and the Downtown Development Authority is soon to show monumental results.
Yup. We bought a building. The Tailgater building, 136-140 East Main, is now Village property and YES! it will remain standing.
To keep it upright; however, is going to take effort on behalf of the Village, DDA and the entire greater Marcellus area community. The DDA discussed its financial obligation to the structure – certified by engineers as sound and stable – during its regular meeting, Thursday, June 8. According to Economic Development Director Sarah Ayers, the board needs to think creatively about how to match the $90 thousand allocated by the Village for renovation, minus the purchase price of approximately $16 thousand.
“Do we need more gazebos or do we need to save this building?”
“This is about historic preservation – this is about our community,” DDA Secretary Seth Carlson says. “It has to start here.”
“We also need to remind residents that they’re still paying for the demolition of the Columbian Hotel,” Village Manager Jacqueline Terrill says. “In 2016, we paid over 350-thousand to tear it down. Think inflation. If we do that again, the cost is going to be much higher.”
Without question, the DDA and Village agree that we need to save this building.
One avenue of community involvement is for the DDA to utilize the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Places/Community Spaces fundraising program. The initiative, designed by MEDC and the Michigan Municipal League, provides matching grant funds up to $50 thousand for public space projects through Patronicity, an online, crowdfunding platform. The program was successfully used locally by Flyover Art on behalf of Patch & Remington for the creation of a workforce development lab.
The board acknowledges that most people will want to know what the building or buildings will become, but the first step is preservation. Historic preservation is a key element in the recently updated Village Master Plan. The plan states
“Historic preservation of older properties makes good economic sense. Village of Marcellus’ downtown is composed of buildings over 50 years old. In fact, over 75 percent of its existing building stock is over 50 years of age. This vast number of buildings cannot reasonably be replaced by new structures. They can, however, be adapted through rehabilitation to meet the needs of today.
Communities across Michigan have successfully embraced preservation of older properties as a tool for economic development by:
• Revitalizing downtown and neighborhoods;
• Enhancing the appearance of the downtown to attract new business,
industry, tourists and residents
• Embracing the sense of place and the unique character of Marcellus; and
• Increasing the tax base.”
In other words, if you don’t use it, you lose it. And the former Marcellus News office, 149 E. Main, is a prime example of preservation attracting economic development. The structure, built in 1900, was in rough shape two years ago. But thanks to The Wood Shaper, Gary Nofsinger, who purchased and completely restored the historic building, it is soon to house a new business. What made it so attractive to the soon-to-be new owner? It was the building. The new owner loves the building and the fact that it’s turnkey made it all the more attractive. Yes. If you rehab it, they will come.
The DDA has scheduled a special meeting to strategize fundraising options for the building and welcomes public participation. The board will meet on Tuesday, June 27, 5:00pm, at the Wildcat Whippy Dip (how can you pass up that invitation?).
But that’s not all. . .
The DDA also approved drafting a resolution stating the board’s intent to expand its district boundaries to include the area west on Main to the intersection with M-40 North and east to Worden Street. The resolution will be forwarded to the Village Council for approval. The DDA district will continue to include the area south on Centre to Arbor Street.
Expanding the DDA boundaries will enable business owners in the new district to have access to DDA programs and state-wide grants.
Furthermore, the DDA has an open seat on its nine-member board. The DDA is seeking applicants willing to share their expertise, time and support of the revitalization of the downtown area. Applications are available at Village Hall and online at https://villageofmarcellus.org.