East Liverpool Downtown Facade Program Gains Popularity

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — The newly-formed ARPA Facade Improvement Grant program in the city is quickly gaining popularity among property owners, with three applications approved last week by the city’s Community Improvement Corporation.

The program was approved recently by city council with the CIC overseeing and managing its operation. The first application was made in July by David Bickerton and approved by the CIC; others have quickly followed.

Most recently approved were requests by Bill Hutchman of Cedar Gable Rentals, Holy Trinity Parish and the Masonic Temple.

Marcus Trelaine, president of Masonic Temple Co., applied for $12,500, the maximum available through the program, for a project totaling $27,001.48 at the temple, 422 Broadway St. The scope of work includes ground excavation, poured concrete caissons, installation of electrical conduit, wire, historic-looking lamp poles and light fixtures.

In his proposal, Trelaine noted the temple – known as the Godwin-Knowles House –  has often provided temporary space for local events such as the Tri-State Pottery Festival, Christmas with Santa, the Potters Player stage company and other activities. But said several key features of the building have not been used.

He advised that improvements are underway to incorporate a banquet ballroom and stage, conference and training center, social hall, commercial kitchen, handicapped accessible restrooms, a hydraulic elevator and audio/visual systems.

These improvements, Trelaine said, are intended to provide new features and enhanced opportunities to the downtown district that previously were limited in scope or unavailable. With a maximum building capacity of 850 persons, the temple offers a “tremendous potential” for businesses as well as for private individuals to host events, he said. 

Estimated completion date of the lighting project is Oct.15.

Hutchman, of Cedar Gable Rentals, was approved for up to $6,525 toward the total cost of $13,050 for a project at his building at 124 West Fifth St., which houses two rental apartments and his office. The project will include scraping and painting exterior windows, dormers, soffit and trim on the historic brick building. He expects the project to start before year-end and take two weeks to complete.

Approved by the board for Holy Trinity Parish was a grant up to the maximum of $12,500, although the request was for $18,090 of the total project cost of $36,180. The project entails installing brick work on a small retaining wall surrounding the church and pastor’s house at 235 West Fifth St.

According to the proposal submitted by Rev. Leo Wherlin, the project will improve the appearance of the buildings, expand recruitment and retention efforts for employees in community outreach efforts, and contribute to city income tax and downtown business. 

Holy Trinity Parish in East Liverpool.

He anticipates the project getting underway soon and being completed in one month.

Planning Director Bill Cowan abstained from voting on the applications from Hutchman and the Masonic Temple due to his brother’s company, Cowan Masonry, having submitted cost proposals for the proposed projects.

Robert Nizer, Dan Dietz, Lisa Blasdel, Jim Swoger, Scott Shepherd, Fred Emmerling, Tom Clark and Brad Goodballet were absent and excused from the meeting, with nine members present, a quorum was met, and the vote was unanimous in each case, except for Cowan’s abstentions.

President Patrick Scafide said this is “a great start” with the recent applicants taking advantage of the facade grant program, prompting member and 1st Ward Councilman Tom Beagle to question whether the program will be expanded to include the East End of the city.
Cowan said the current regulations call for focusing on the downtown business district.
The facade grant funding is reimbursed to applicants once the projects are completed and inspected to ensure they meet specifics of the grant application.

Those interested in information on the facade improvement grant program can contact the city Planning Department in City Hall.

In other economic development business, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 5:15 p.m. Nov. 1 in council chambers to consider a zoning change request for the former Pleasant Heights Fire Station #4, 1800 Lisbon St., requested by new owner Georgetta Russell.

1800 Lisbon St. in East Liverpool.

The property is currently zoned R-2, medium density residential, and Russell is asking for a change to B-1, neighborhood retail business.Asked her plans for the property, Russell said she and her husband Keith currently own the property across Lisbon Street, which they rent to a car dealership and said they have no plans to change the exterior of the building.

“We want it to look like a fire station,” she advised, saying they hope to see a retail shop of some sort in the building, perhaps an antique store.

Pictured at top: The Godwin-Knowles House at 422 Broadway St., which the Masonic Temple Co. plans to renovate.

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