Revitalization of the former Sheets building, located at 20 E. William St. in downtown Delaware, is officially a go as Main Street Delaware (MSD) held a ceremony at the building Thursday to kick off its fundraising campaign and the start of renovations.
Delaware City Council approved a lease agreement with MSD in August that will allow MSD to move its offices from East Winter Street to the new building, as well as to establish a Delaware Welcome Center.
The initial lease will span 10 years, with a renewal option, at a cost of $1 per year to be paid to the city by MSD.
“Since 2011, we have had our offices in the Strand building on East Winter Street thanks to the generosity of the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association,” MSD Executive Director Susie Bibler said Thursday. “But it’s time to return that space to the Strand and support its mission, and it’s time for Main Street Delaware to expand to support our community and downtown with a new welcome center.
“We have collaborated with the city to lease this historic building to create an office space, meeting space, community restrooms, which are much needed, and, of course, a very welcoming welcome center. We are also launching a Front Porch Campaign — Main Street Delaware’s first capital campaign — to raise $210,000 to renovate this building to make our welcome center vision a reality,” she added.
Bibler, who was named the Main Street Executive of the Year by Heritage Ohio on Thursday, said the Front Porch Campaign concept was chosen to recognize the distinctive architecture of the Sheets building, as well as Ohio and the city of Delaware’s legacies as “the mother of presidents.”
“With continuing support from the community, we will restore this beautiful front porch and building to enhance the experience for everyone who stops by to learn more about the city and community we love,” Bibler said.
MSD Board President Zach Price said the hope for the building’s restoration is to provide “modern amenities and memorable experiences for residents and visitors.” He added the building needs “a lot of work,” which includes updated finishes, new mechanical equipment, masonry restoration, and repair to the great porches. In addition to those repairs, Price said a handicap-accessible ramp will also be installed to ensure the building is truly open to everyone.
Mayor Carolyn Riggle said during the ceremony, “When I look at this building, this crowd, and this city, I see purpose and potential. I am grateful for everyone who works with us to help Delaware thrive and grow every day … I commend Susie, Zach, and all of the Main Street Delaware Board for its vision to renovate this building, preserving its history, and beginning a new chapter as a welcome center.
“I am looking forward to seeing their renovated center, but even more importantly, seeing the impact it has on the city and county as it helps to share more information on the vibrant destination that Delaware has become,” she added. “It is this type of entrepreneurial spirit and forward thinking that has made Main Street Delaware so valuable in our community…”
City Manager Tom Homan called MSD’s renovation plans a “rebirth” of the building, adding that it makes sense to expand MSD’s footprint closer to the city’s main street and increase the organization’s presence in the community.
While the project is officially underway, much work still remains for MSD as it attempts to raise the necessary funds to complete it. Bibler announced the fundraising campaign would be kicking off with $28,240 already having been raised through various matching grants from local investors.
“As you can see, we have a lot of fundraising to do, and we hope that you will all consider making the tax-deductible gift for the porch,” Bibler told those in attendance. “Working together, we know that we will succeed. We have so much faith in you and all of Delaware …”
Those interested in learning more about the Front Porch Campaign, or donating to the effort, can do so by visiting www.mainstreetdelaware.com.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.