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$4.7M downtown Perrysburg project will probably displace farmers market in 2025

Posted By: The Toledo Blade on January 25, 2024.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

A $4.7 million downtown beautification project is planned for Perrysburg and will be introduced to the public Wednesday.

Business owners and the public are invited to view renderings and ask questions at an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Schaller Memorial Building, 130 W. Indiana Ave.

“This is a true revitalization project,” said Joe Fawcett, city administrator. “It’s a big investment in the downtown area. The renderings show what the downtown could look like on the back end of this, complementing the historic nature of the downtown and maximizing some of those really neat features of the downtown: the really wide sidewalks, the outdoor dining.”

The project is estimated to cost $4.7 million. The city is reviewing several options on how to pay for the project, which include applying for grants, utilizing reserve funding and money from the general fund, paying with cash set aside in the 2024 budget, or a combination of borrowing and cash.

The city is also looking at ways to assist business or building owners who may want to make their own accessibility improvements by offering grants from remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Another cost to the city will be propping up affected businesses during the construction, Mr. Fawcett said. This could include marketing, helping with signage, and obtaining private parking spaces for business use, he said.

The 2025 construction will likely move the tremendously popular farmers market out of the downtown that summer.

“We’re working through with Visit Perrysburg about the ’25 market, where it would go, how it would look,” Mr. Fawcett said. “And then plan for 2026 and have a huge celebration of the markets’ back in the downtown.”

The market could be moved to the Commodore lawn, he said.

“We don’t know yet, but it is certainly fair to say there is going to be an impact to the downtown,” Mr. Fawcett said.

Christine Best, executive director of Visit Perrysburg, said the market could be held in an amended downtown area, Levis Commons, or the Country Charm Shoppes parking lot.

“I think it will be a good thing, and from the renderings, it’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s in dire need of those outdoor speakers, better lighting, better wiring.

“The growing pains will be worth it,” Ms. Best said.

Mr. Fawcett said this process started as an Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility project.

“The city … received significant feedback from the downtown property owners and businesses that they did not like the [initial] plan,” he said. “The mayor and council listened to their concerns and took a step back and re-evaluated the approach.”

They re-envisioned the parameters and embraced it as an investment, he said.

“It turned into a true revitalization and streetscape project,” Mr. Fawcett said.

The downtown sidewalks will be cut into four zones. Starting at the business and going toward the street, there will be a 5-foot building zone, followed by 8 feet of sidewalk and 8 feet of amenity zone, which would be for outdoor dining or vendor tents for the farmers market. The last section is for curbs.

There will be planters, updated lighting, and public art, he said.

There will also be a ramp system into buildings for people with mobility issues, Mr. Fawcett said.

“Another thing we found is that the slope of the road doesn’t meet current ADA standards, the cross slope of the sidewalk doesn’t meet current ADA standards — so there’s accessibility issues throughout,” he said. “People will be able to take steps up into buildings, or the ramps around.”

Shelby Lahey, who manages marketing and the website for downtown businesses Angel 101 and Gather, said she hopes the plan will keep downtown businesses competitive and current while maintaining their historical nature.

“I saw the ramps and the flower beds, and it seems like a really good collaboration,” she said.

Other representatives of downtown businesses who did not want to be quoted said they would like more parking.

“The guidance to the architect was we’re not losing parking and anyone with outdoor dining is not losing the amount of outdoor dining they can have,” Mr. Fawcett said.

The project needs to go through the legislative process of authorizing the mayor and finance director to contract for the remaining design and engineering work. More public open houses will be held to gather input.

An ad-hoc steering committee of downtown business owners, property owners, and members of the public will be formed.

The goal is to have the design phase completed by November. The next phase would begin in January with construction beginning in March, 2025, and completed in the fall of 2025.

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