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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Perrysburg's Louisiana Ave. properties get city cash to renovate

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The storefront windows at the Elegant Rags clothing store at 109 Louisiana Ave. in Perrysburg work well enough, building owner John Naylor said.

"I mean, they're still usable after all these years," Mr. Naylor said.

If not for a grant offered by the city of Perrysburg to any downtown business or property owners interested in upgrading their infrastructure, Mr. Naylor said he'd probably leave the windows in each of his five Louisiana Avenue buildings alone.

Instead, the Ottawa Hills man plans to install new storefront and secondary windows in each of his buildings, thanks to City Council's commitment to reimburse up to 50 percent of the cost of such projects, with a maximum of $25,000 per building. It's called the Downtown Improvement Program; council approved an ordinance on April 18 to encourage property owners to improve existing buildings that front Louisiana Avenue between Third and Front streets.

Items eligible for reimbursement include window, door, and roof repair or replacement; exterior cleaning; painting; signage; landscaping; sidewalks, and outdoor seating areas.

Interior improvements that comply with the Perrysburg building code are also eligible. New construction is not eligible, nor is work done prior to application approval.

The Division of Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development must approve all work, as must the Historic Landmarks Commission and City Council.

Mr. Naylor was the first to receive this particular grant when he was approved for three jobs at last week's council meeting. In addition to replacing storefront windows, Mr. Naylor plans to renovate the Tourist Hotel into two upscale apartments and further renovate the buildings that house Kids Klothesline, Pet Spa, and Hair Designers.

Council will reimburse him $34,000 for his three projects expected to cost $68,000.

Mr. Naylor has applied for two more grants to do similar work at the Flower Shop and Ragazza clothing store.

"If you can get new storefront windows for half the price, now is the time to do it," he said.

With such a deal, the question becomes why hasn't anyone else taken advantage thus far?

Perrysburg Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Director Rick Thielen said he's not surprised at the early lack of applicants, mainly because it takes business owners a substantial amount of time to compile the relevant data for submission.

Mr. Thielen said more grants, including the two Mr. Naylor has applied for, will be voted on for approval in the coming months.

Council President Joe Lawless said the program's success will continue to grow with time.

"We know there are more projects in the works," Mr. Lawless said. "Downtown is very important to the historic integrity of the city. It's a good idea to offer incentives that make it more financially feasible to make improvements to the area."



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