WADSWORTH — As 2018 begins to wind down, so too is the two-year downtown revitalization grant that has helped 17 property owners make improvements to the historic buildings in Wadsworth’s downtown area.
A new HVAC unit is lowered into a building at 126 College St. in downtown Wadsworth during the summer.
PHOTO BY TOM STUGMYER Enlarge
The Johnson Historic House at 161 High St., home to the Wadsworth Area Historical Society, received new windows thanks to a revitalization grant set to conclude this year.
NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE Enlarge
Planning and Zoning Director Jeff Kaiser said the process has worked out well for the city.
“You don’t see a whole lot of activity in the first year and then things pick up and then you get a huge rush of activity within the last 60 days,” he said Wednesday.
Wadsworth received a Community Development Block Grant through the Ohio Development Service Agency in 2016, providing the city with a $300,000 grant.
Councilman-at-large and Main Street Wadsworth volunteer Tom Stugmyer said the grant, which goes through Medina County, provided Wadsworth with $270,000 in funding for its downtown with $30,000 allotted for the consultants managing the grant.
“The initial grant was for a 50/50 split,” Stugmyer said. “The businesses, if they put in $10,000, they would get $5,000 back up to a maximum of $15,000.”
For the second year of funding, the footprint of buildings that qualified for the grant funding was expanded, as was the financial payback a property owner could receive.
“We went to a 75/25 split,” Stugmyer said. “So if somebody put in 10 grand they got back $7,500, up to a maximum of 20,000.”
Stugmyer said all contracts were between the business owner and the contractors, and not through the state.
Proprieties that received improvements through the grant funding include the Johnson Historic House at 161 High St., the Nothing But Kids resale store at 138 Main St. and a building at 126 College St. that houses multiple businesses.
Main Street Wadsworth Executive Director Adrianne Krauss said one of the main goals of the organization is preservations of Wadsworth’s historic downtown structures, but that can pose challenges.
“Preservation of historic structures is sometimes more complicated and expensive than modern structures because you have older materials, and if you want to repair or replace those materials it can be expensive,” she said Tuesday.
Kaiser said a lot of the improvements made to the structures, some of which date back to the 19th century, cannot necessarily be seen, but are important nonetheless.
“There was a lot of work done on mechanical systems such as upgrading air conditioning or electric or repairing leaking roofs,” Kaiser said. “To me that still is great rehabilitation because it makes the building more marketable, a more desirable place to do business if you have everything working well.”
Nothing But Kids owner Kellie Thompson said she heard about the grant opportunity from Stugmyer, and thought she could use the funding to replace the old front windows of her store.
“I recently bought the building and it needed some upgrades,” Thompson said Wednesday.
Thompson said her old storefront windows probably dated to the 1930s; one window had a bb hole.
“Kellie was last on the list and I got Kellie’s contract signed and in one hour before the deadline,” Stugmyer said. “It wasn’t a major project, but for a small-business owner like that it was major.”
Stugmyer said the Jackson Hewitt tax building at 125 High St. will be just about the last building to have work completed before the deadline.
“All the actual work is supposed to be done here technically by Aug. 30,” he said. “We got a small extension for the Hewett tax building over there.”
Business owners should be reimbursed for their investments by Oct. 31, Stugmyer said.