Tim and Michele Drake want to renovate the vacant building at the corner of Main and Fulton streets and are seeking a Community Development Investment Grant for the project.
“Financing has been arranged for part of the project. The purchase of the building is contingent on receiving the grant,” she said during the April 8 meeting of the Waupaca Common Council.
The couple owns Lucky Tree, a gift shop in downtown Waupaca, and brought their plans for the former Office Outfitters building before the council that night.
Their plan includes relocating Lucky Tree from its current location at 211 N. Main St. to the main storefront at 100 N. Main St., following the completion of the renovation.
Their proposal also calls for space for a second storefront with an entrance on Fulton Street and to turn the current four spaces on the upper level into three upscale apartments.
There was water damage to the building last year, after a pipe froze. Only one of the four spaces in the upper level is presently being used.
They asked the city to apply for a Community Development Investment Grant on their behalf through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The council approved their request.
Michele Drake told the council they learned about the grant opportunity from Naletta Burr, of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
During the past year, Burr attended several meetings in Waupaca related to economic development, including some with downtown business owners.
In an April 2 memo to the common council, Brennan Kane, Waupaca’s development director, explained the grant process.
He said the city is permitted to apply for a total of two such grants per year.
Last month, the council authorized the city to apply for a planning grant for the next phase of the city’s Downtown Master Plan and Main Street reconstruction project, Kane said.
The grant the city will apply for on behalf of the Drakes is for an implementation grant to assist in the financial costs of renovating the former Office Outfitters space, he said.
“The CDIG grants are targeted and intended for communities that have limited or no financial opportunities to support or invest in development and renovation projects within their community,” Kane wrote in the memo. “Due to the city not being allowed to establish another TID at this time, these grant funding opportunities are the only alternative the city has to promote economic development within the downtown area.”
If the city is approved for the funding, the funds would be allocated to the city, and the city would then have a developer’s agreement with the Drakes.
Kane said it would be at no cost to city taxpayers, because the grant would be allocated from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The total investment, including the purchase of the building and land, is estimated between $700,000 and $800,000, according to Kane.
The city will apply for a grant of about $200,000.
Tim and Michele Drake opened Lucky Tree in May of 2011, and the former Office Outfitters building has been vacant since September of 2010. That is when Bill and Mary Zimmermann moved Office Outfitters to its current location at the corner of Badger and Washington streets.
In addition to the CDIG grant, the Drakes plan to apply for Federal and State Historic Tax Credits for their project.
Michele Drake told the council the building is listed on the national and state registers of historic places.
Constructed in 1889, the building was the previous home of the Internal Order of Oddfellows, Holly’s Furniture Store, Waupaca’s first radio station and a grocery store, she said.
The Drakes are working with Architect Terry Martin, as well as an architect from Chicago and Rockwood Home Builders, of Plover.
“Preliminary plans have already been drawn up,” she said.
Those plans include removing the main entrance and awning to bring back the building’s historic look.
Michele Drake said the two centrally located storefronts and three upscale apartments would fit in with the city’s plan to reconstruct its downtown.