The city’s Redevelopment Commission is taking the first steps in officially transferring the Gimbel Corner to a trio of local families looking to redevelop the corner of Second and Main streets.
Business owner and downtown developer Leah Richter — along with her parents, Kevin and Nancy Emmons, and melon farmers Dennis and Cathy Mouzin and their sons, Brady and Blake — went before members of the RDC in August telling of their plans to purchase the 6-story Oliphant building at 214 Main St. and renovate it into condominiums.
RDC members, thrilled at the group’s plans, said they would be happy to transfer the Gimbel Corner, a green space, into their hands — just as soon as they closed on the purchase of the Oliphant building itself.
Richter went back before RDC members Thursday saying the deal was done on Sept. 18.
“So we just want to make sure we’re moving along with that,” she said of the transfer.
RDC members quickly made good on their promise and directed city attorney Dave Roellgen to begin the process, which starts by declaring the lot, which is owned by the city but legally held by the RDC, as surplus property.
It’s a process, he said, that will likely take more than a month to complete.
But everyone was on board with moving forward.
“(The year) 2020 hasn’t given us much to be happy about,” said RDC member and at-large councilman Marc McNeece. “But I could not be happier to hear about people making things very very bright here in the next couple of years.
“Thank you,” he said. “Our community needs this.”
RDC president Tim Smith, too, called these “exciting times.”
The RDC also on Thursday agreed to offer financial assistance to Sure Clean Inc. in its $2.5 million endeavor to build 13 homes on empty lots located just off Hart Street.
Operating under the name REM Development Group, the Richters, Emmons and Mouzins plan to renovate the Oliphant building into condominiums.
The bottom floor would remain a commercial space, but each floor above would be its own unit. They also want to use the Gimbel Corner to construct five garage spaces fronting Main Street; each structure would be two stories with the front side built to resemble individualized store fronts and above them, rooftop terraces.
Richter told the RDC Thursday that since word has spread of their downtown project, they’ve received much positive feedback, so much so that they are thinking of modifying the project somewhat in an effort to take better advantage of the entire space.
She didn’t elaborate on those changes, but she did ask to be placed on the RDC’s agenda next month to offer a more detailed update.
The RDC will next meet at 9 a.m. on Nov. 19 at City Hall, 201 Vigo St.