Clare businesses plan facelifts

January 29, 2015

LARGE downtown buildings1

Four Leaf Brewing pic taken around 1930 and the archetect drawing for the new facade. The building is next to the Campbell Printing building.


By Pat Maurer

Some older Clare residents may think they are getting a glimpse of the past in downtown Clare in the coming year. Eight of Clare’s downtown storefronts will get a new “old look” when they are restored to their historic appearance through a façade improvement program.

Following a Public Hearing, the Clare City Planning Commission gave their unanimous approval to rehabilitate eight downtown storefronts at a meeting Wednesday evening, with Maxwell’s owner Steve Barnes, a member of the PC abstaining from the application approval for his building.

Those applications will now be submitted to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “Applications approved by the MEDC are eligible for grant funding in a range of from 25 percent to 75 percent of the total cost of the renovations,” Clare City Manager Ken Hibl said in his Planning Commission agenda report.

Standing in for Hibl at the meeting, Acting City Manager Steve Kingsbury said, “This really could transform our downtown.”

Clare’s Downtown Development Authority approved the applications at a special meeting on January 8. The MEDC requires approval of both the DDA and the Planning Commission to consider the applications for grant funding.

“We have had two property owners in our downtown district interested in the façade grant program for nearly five years,” Hibl said in the report. “However the MEDC criteria requires at least three concurrent applicants.”

“The Planning Commission is the final approval authority,” Hibl added in the agenda report. “We are hopeful that we will know within the next 30 days whether the applications will be approved for funding.” He said a number of the applicants want to begin the rehabilitation projects immediately if they are approved.

Hibl said the applicants are Maxwell’s, three storefronts for Cops & Doughnuts, The Venue (formerly Mill End), Four Leaf Brewing, the Campbell Printing building and the 518 McEwan building. All of the facades except the Venue want echo the 1920-30s era in Clare. The Venue would like to restore their building to the same appearance as pictured in 1904.

Cops & Doughnuts representative Greg Rynearson said, “There’s already four more business owners that are interested in restoring their business facades to historic appearances.”

The project for Maxwell Flowers (601 North McEwan) includes three businesses now located in the building: Maxwell’s Flowers, Brewin’ on McEwan and the Clare Sweet Shop. The project’s total cost is estimated at $64,700.

Cops & Doughnuts will renovate three downtown storefronts: The Traffic Stop Diner on the left R 517 McEwan, the Cops and Doughnuts Bakery in the center at 521 McEwan and The Cop Shop on the left at 523 McEwan. Improvements to the Diner total an estimated $51,750; renovations to the front of the Bakery will total $40,750; and rehabilitation of the Cop Shop will total $22,750.

The Venue (formerly Mill End) at 501 North McEwan has a total project cost for the rehabilitation of $123,200.

Renovations to the new 4 Leaf Brewery, next to Campbell’s Printing at 412 McEwan, will cost an estimated total of $64,450.

The Campbell Printing Building at 406 McEwan Street has a total project estimate of $66,950.

Located at 518 North McEwan Street, the new Millie’s Downtown shop, featuring gifts and home décor, will be rehabilitated with the new historic façade for an estimated total cost of $45,300. The business will open in March. The building once housed The Emporium.

Hibl said in his report, “Completion of the façade proposals will increase the taxable value of the respective building and make a significant, tremendously positive impact on the appearance of our downtown. I recommend approval of all the proposed façade changes.”



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