Two businesses receive design services in Three Rivers

When a community becomes part of the Michigan Main Street project design assistance for those seeking it is part of the package.

Two projects in Three Rivers have now been awarded design assistance through the program.  

One of those is John Wolgamood, owner of 32 N. Main Street in Downtown Three Rivers. He received an on-site consultation with Michigan Main Street Design Specialist Debra Johnson, as well as a written report with proposed facade drawings, paint samples, historic photos, a maintenance schedule, and other resources that will assist in making improvements to the building.

The second is Mike and Nancy Russell, owners of Main Street Cafe, 13 N. Main St., who plan to purchase 19-21 N. Main and 23 N. Main, for their Tap House & Grille, pending purchase agreements on both properties. 

The couple plans to turn the main level into a tap house featuring 25 to 30 taps and to offer a grille with barbecue, sandwiches, burgers, and bar food. Ultimately, they hope to develop apartments on the upper level as a second phase of the project. 

Mike Russell says he and his wife have been working closely with the Three Rivers DDA, which has been instrumental in pointing them in the right direction, setting up meetings with key state agencies, and pushing them along to help meet deadlines. 

"Recently, we’ve been working with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and the Small Business Development Center on the final touches of our business plan, and of course we appreciate the current owners Jennifer and Randy Huyck for working with us in the process of the acquisition of the buildings," Russell says.

The buildings at 19-23 N. Main are a significant part of downtown Three Rivers, both economically and physically, and have the potential to play a role in the district’s ongoing revitalization, DDA officials say. 

Both buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and the Three Rivers Downtown Local Historic District. The proposed design service outlines improvements that will remove modern storefronts, maintain and enhance the historic integrity of the buildings, improve the buildings’ visibility and appearance, and retain and enhance Three Rivers’ identity as a historic community.

As a Select Level Main Street community, Three Rivers is eligible for design service for three projects in each of five years, with a maximum of 15 total designs.

By following these standards and using the approved Design Services provided by the Michigan Main Street Center, the Russells are also able to apply for additional funding through various incentive programs such as façade grants and federal historic tax credits.

"We’re currently in the final stages of ‘getting our ducks in a row'," Russell says with regards to the project’s timeline. "Nancy and I are very excited about the project and hope to help make Three Rivers a downtown destination."  

Regarding improvements to 32 N. Main, Wolgamood says initially he was hesitant to start the process. "My concerns were about the thought of having to do endless paperwork and on time spent on developing a plan that would be cost-prohibitive to implement for my building improvements. I have been pleasantly surprised from the initial process through receiving the end report for suggested improvements."

He says he found the Three Rivers DDA made the process relatively simple and painless. "Most of the ideas that I’ve received are intuitive and simplistic."

Wolgamood's building, 32 N. Main, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The nomination for listing states the building was built circa 1870 and describes it as a two-story Italianate block with a metal cornice.

"I have actually learned several useful things after having talked with Ms. Johnson, examining informational links that she provided, and by reading her final report," Wolgamood says. "I now have some idea how buildings were originally designed and laid out the way they were, do’s and don’ts for rehabbing, energy efficiency hints, and how to make your building stay within the overall design of the nearby buildings and the importance."

He went on to say: "I rate this experience as very positive. Our goal would be to start work on the façade within the next 90 days and have it completed sometime this fall."

Source: Brian Persky, Three Rivers DDA
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