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Published: Tuesday, 8/28/2007

Wauseon firm introduces $6M downtown development plan

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Willy van Bakel, left, and Charles Bryan of Wauseon Downtown Development talk over a proposed project consisting of a hotel and shops to replace that portion of the city's downtown that was destroyed by fire in April. Willy van Bakel, left, and Charles Bryan of Wauseon Downtown Development talk over a proposed project consisting of a hotel and shops to replace that portion of the city's downtown that was destroyed by fire in April.
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WAUSEON - Construction of a $6 million complex featuring a 20-room hotel, shops, and a restaurant could get under way this fall in downtown Wauseon to replace buildings destroyed by fire in April.

Charles Bryan and Willy van Bakel of Wauseon, who with other investors have formed a new company called Wauseon Downtown Development, last night introduced the project to the city's planning commission.

The commission took no action but offered assistance to the company.

A date to break ground hasn't been set, but Mr. Bryan said he would like construction to start by the end of October or the first of November. Target opening date is spring, 2008.

Wauseon Downtown Development already has purchased three of the four properties along North Fulton and Elm streets where the fire occurred, Mr. Bryan said. The company has an option on the fourth parcel.

Five shops that would complement the hotel, such as a coffee shop and a dry cleaners, are planned, and the restaurant would have an outdoor patio as well as a stage area.

The hotel and the lobby would occupy 10,000 square feet of space, the shops 8,800 square feet, and the restaurant 11,000 square feet.

Mr. Bryan said the develop-ment company plans to pursue state grants, low-interest loans, and investor dollars to pay for the project.

The state already has earmarked $500,000 for infrastructure improvements at the site, and city officials are working to secure an additional $500,000 in state funds to assist with the project, said Tom Hall, the city's code administrator.

Steve Brown, Wauseon's planning director, said that while other developers are building similar complexes on the outskirts of communities, this project is a golden opportunity to "put a downtown project in a downtown."

Wauseon Mayor Jerry Dehnbostel thanked Mr. Bryan and Mr. van Bakel for the faith they have in the downtown. Mr. Bryan operated Doc Holliday's restaurant, one of the businesses destroyed by fire April 14 in this Fulton County city, 35 miles west of Toledo.

"I think this is a fantastic first step for the downtown's revitalization," the mayor said.

Jerry Borton, president of the planning commission, applauded the developers and said it's encouraging to see such a plan as a viable option for the downtown.

"We'll do everything in our power to move the process along," he said.

Investigators ruled the fire that destroyed the half-block of buildings was set intentionally inside Doc Holliday's. The fire remains under active investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6006.



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