WAUSEON - The first phase of redeveloping half of a downtown block destroyed by fire more than two years ago got the green light Thursday morning from Wauseon City Council.
The agreement with Wauseon Downtown Development Co., LLC., that council approved by a 5-0 vote, calls for construction of a 10,472-square-foot building housing a restaurant with retail space in the rear at Front and Elm streets.
A state grant will cover $500,000 of the building's estimated $700,000 cost.
Construction is scheduled for completion by the end of July, according to a letter dated May 11 and co-signed by Mayor Jerry Dehnbostel and Charles Bryan, who with his wife, Jennifer, are to be sole members of the development company. Neither of the Bryans attended the meeting.
A second phase, consisting of more retail shops, is proposed to be built after the first phase's completion, although Mayor Dehnbostel acknowledged to council that, under a "worst-case scenario," that project would not be built.
The development company plans to use the first phase as collateral for bank loans to build the second phase entirely with its own funds, the mayor said.
The development agreement requires the developer to place $100,000 in an escrow account from which funds will be disbursable only with a co-signature from Wauseon's finance director. It also places restrictions on the property's re-sale once the project is finished, and allows grant funds to be paid out only on the basis of contractor invoices for completed work.
Mayor Dehnbostel's enthusiasm about approving the development agreement was tempered by the two years since the fire.
"It's just been such a long time coming, and there have been so many roadblocks," he said. "I'll be glad to see construction start."
"It's time to get downtown rebuilt," city council President Doug Shaw said, "and put some life back in downtown."