November 16, 2023 at 10:34 p.m.
A pair of local businesses are being recommended for help with building repairs.
Portland Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) Advisory Committee on Thursday voted to recommend funding assistance for Wheel & Spoke Antique Mall and Reclaiming Design.
The decisions on the funding now move forward to Portland City Council.
Antique mall owners Angie and Gary Clark are requesting $188,250 to replace the roof on the facility. They explained that there have been a lot of issues with the roof and that they have already replaced a portion of it themselves. They said fixing the roof will help increase traffic as they would have more usable space for vendors.
“There’s a significant amount of funds that have already been invested and improvements they’ve made,” said Travis Richards, executive director of Jay County Development Corporation.
He added that the funding request amounts to about 25% of what the couple has put into the facility so far.
“I’m just impressed you haven’t been here before now,” said committee member Janet Powers. “I appreciate your investment. I appreciate everything you’ve done.”
“This is just a small drop in the bucket, the money,” Gary Clark responded as he and his wife mentioned additional improvements that can be made to Wheel and Spoke Event Center on the west side of the facility. “There’s so much that has to go into this in the next couple years.”
EDIT advisory committee members Kent McClung, Mike Aker and Powers voted to recommend the funding for the antique mall as a partially forgivable loan.
The parameters of the loan are no interest and no payments for three years, followed by a five-year payback with an interest rate at one percentage point above prime. They recommended that 50% of the loan be forgiven if construction is complete by spring 2025, at least 100 vendor spaces are maintained and the business remains in Portland.
“I’ll be happy if you’re open and thriving,” said McClung.
The approval came after Powers had asked earlier in the meeting about how much money is currently available in the city’s EDIT fund. Clerk-treasurer Lori Phillips said it is about $1.1 million.
LeeAnn Miller of Reclaiming Design requested $75,000 in EDIT funds to help continue the renovation of her building at 206 N. Meridian St.
It is the planned home of a showroom, retail space and office space for her interior design business.
The total project is estimated at just over $302,000. So far, it has received $20,000 in facade funding and $30,000 from Portland Redevelopment Commission. (The money from the redevelopment commission was originally planned for heating, ventilation and cooling but was shifted to roof work after a July storm peeled part of the roof off the building.)
The $75,000 would go toward interior renovations.
The committee recommended the funding be approved with the same loan parameters as that for the antique mall. The 50% forgiveness for Reclaiming Design would require the renovation to be completed, Miller to invest a minimum of $180,000 and the business to stay in Portland.
“She is investing in downtown,” said Powers. “I mean, I know it’s your building. But that’s all we’ve heard, ‘Invest in downtown. Invest in our community, period.’”
The terms for both loans are similar to the last such loan provided via EDIT funds — $50,000 for Rollin’ J Lanes bowling alley. It was no interest or payments for three years with a pay-back period of four years and 50% forgiveness if parameters were met.
Also at the meeting, the advisory committee recommended contributing an additional $8,500 to Jay County Development Corporation (JCDC) to cover its projected budget deficit for 2024. The organization’s board approved its 2024 budget last week at $224,816.04 with a projected deficit of $8,166. It has the reserves to cover the deficit, but the budget was passed with the caveat that the JCDC executive committee present a recommendation in the first quarter of 2024 for how to cover the funding gap.
While the budget was passed unanimously, board members acknowledged that deficit budgets in the future are not an option.
Richards told the EDIT advisory committee Thursday that in addition to the projected deficit, the organization’s rent at Community Resource Center has gone up. (Portland Board of Works voted recently to increase the monthly rate for all tenants by $25 per month.) Richards asked for the $8,500 to cover the additional rent and the overall 2024 funding gap.
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