Friday, Dec 02, 2016
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Art

Maumee storefront to reopen as art studio for the disabled

Facility to serve therapeutic role, offer classes to public

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The 6,000-square-foot empty building at the corner of Wayne and Conant streets in Maumee was once a patio furniture store. It has been vacant since the store went out of business three years ago.

THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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All pieces are in place for a vacant former furniture store in downtown Maumee to be reborn as an art studio that, in part, provides therapeutic services for the disabled.

Maumee City Council last week approved a development agreement with Ohio Housing Source LLC and Sunshine Inc. of Northwest Ohio for the renovation project at 103 W. Wayne St., at Conant Street, under which 6,000 square feet of floor space in the building will be upgraded and remodeled.

The project’s $426,118 budget includes $200,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds, for which it is eligible because of the facility’s planned therapeutic role.

But Betty Holland, Sunshine’s president and chief executive, said the facility also will offer art lessons and programs open to the general public. Local artists will be solicited to work alongside agency staff who will relocate from Sunshine’s existing Monclova Township campus once the renovations are finished in September.

“We are always looking for opportunities for people in the community to work alongside people with disabilities to see directly what their gifts are,” Ms. Holland said Friday.

Along with approving the development agreement, city council authorized the administration to seek proposals for architectural and engineering services for the project, which the city is to manage.

The renovations will include extensive work on the building’s interior structure, electrical, plumbing, and climate-control systems.

City Administrator John Jezak said $200,000 from Ohio Housing Source and $26,118 from Sunshine will be spent on the project before grant money comes into play. “We’re off and running on one of the oldest buildings in the city of Maumee, and one of our most prominent vacancies,” he said.

The 135-year-old building started out as a department store, then became a casual furniture store. Artcrest Dinette & Patio closed about three years ago.

Sunshine, a nonprofit that works with people who have disabilities, already has a downtown presence with its Georgette’s Grounds and Gifts shop, which employs about 25 disabled people, just up the block at 311 Conant.

Sunshine plans to move its existing art studio to the building once the renovations are finished, along with its “Super Sacks” workshop that recycles large industrial bags and decoratively paints them as a “cottage industry,” Ms. Holland said.

Public lessons proposed for the facility include painting, pottery, and weaving, she said.

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