Main Street Delaware (MSD) will soon be on the move. During Monday’s meeting, Delaware City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement to allow the organization to re-purpose the house at 20 E. William St. for multiple functions.
The house, which once served as the city’s engineering office, and is also known as the former Sheets Building, has sat vacant for more than five years now. Recent attempts to have the building razed to make way for the construction of a new welcome center were turned down by the Delaware Historic Preservation Commission.
“Staff still supports the lease and believes Main Street Delaware to be the right partner,” said Assistant City Manager Kyle Kridler during Monday’s meeting. “It breathes fresh life into the historic building and creates positive synergy in close proximity to City Hall and COhatch.”
With the lease, MSD will use the building as its new home office, as well as a welcome center for the community. Last month, MSD Executive Director Susie Bibler said many in the community don’t know where the current MSD building is, and with better visibility, the organization wants to become “more of a resource as we attract more people to our community.”
The initial lease is good for 10 years and has two, five-year option renewals. MSD will be responsible for renovating both the interior and exterior of the building; and to fund those renovations, it will seek a variety of grants, as well as holding its own fundraising initiatives.
Bibler said the cost of renovations is expected to be in the range of $200,000, although some of those costs won’t need to be assumed immediately after MSD occupies the building.
“We’re very excited about this project,” said MSD Board President Zach Price. “We believe it is going to provide an asset and enhance the community. We look forward to the renovation project.”
Caroline Pusateri, the program coordinator at MSD, said there has been a large need for a welcome center in Delaware, and many small business owners are “anxious to see this project come to fruition.”
During the first reading of the ordinance in June, some council members expressed concerns about the financial viability of the project for MSD. Asked by Councilwoman Lisa Keller on Monday about its financial standing, Price acknowledged the impact the pandemic has had on the organization, but also expressed confidence that MSD is in a well-enough place to take on the new location.
“COVID-19 has affected our finances, along with everyone else,” Price said. “The majority of Main Street’s finances come from hosting events, as well as private donations and memberships. We still have a strong membership, we continue to do fundraising. However, that has become more difficult, and not being able to host the events has probably been the most impact that we’ve seen affect our budget.
“That said, Main Street was in a stronger financial spot when we went into this pandemic than, I believe, Main Street had ever been in, at least since I’ve been involved with Main Street. We maintain, at minimum, a three-month reserve for operating expenses, and our balance sheet is currently much stronger than that.”
City Manager Tom Homan said, “This is something that the city and city council has been talking about for a while now. We look forward to the nice reuse of that building that the city purchased a number of years ago, and it served us well for a number of years as our engineering headquarters.”
Homan said he hopes to see MSD collaborate with the Delaware County Convention and Visitors Bureau upon taking over the building, and there have been preliminary discussions on such a collaboration.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.