Garrettsville – Last week, the downtown Buckeye Block rebuilding fund got a $700,000 boost from the State of Ohio. It’s enough to kick-start construction plans.
Senator John Eklund (R- District 18) responded to the appeals of builder and principal Buckeye Block owner Mick Mascheck, along with Mayor Rick Patrick, helping this project to become one appropriation in the $160 million Capital Budget Bill passed last week at the Ohio Statehouse. The Garrettsville Buckeye Block-Community Theatre project is one of 15 appropriations (ranging in value from $12,000 for the Windham Veterans Memorial Plaque to $7 million for KSU’s renovation of Taylor Hall) awarded to Portage County entities through the Ohio Senate Finance Committee for Fiscal Year 2017-18.
These financial awards are made available to local communities and educational institutions through proceeds from the sale of Ohio bonds. Funds will be released as early as July 2016, to be used within a two-year period. Then Garrettsville can make a second request for community funds.
Originally, Maschek had hoped to build a three-story structure. But now he has submitted a two-story design to an architect for pricing on the building plans. Then the project will go out for quotes and bids, with a possible groundbreaking by autumn.
Although the $700,000 sum falls far below the nearly $4 million requested to rebuild the Buckeye Block Building that burned in a 2014 fire, Maschek says it’s enough to get revised building plans in motion. Originally, Maschek had hoped to build a three-story structure. But now he has submitted a two-story design to an architect for pricing on the building plans. Then the project will go out for quotes and bids, with a possible groundbreaking by Autumn.
Maschek is considering a 20,000-square-foot, brick-faced building design in keeping with the architecture of Garrettsville’s historic district. An open arcade is planned for pedestrians to walk through from the rear parking lot to Main Street. Four businesses are to line Main and eight more are planned for both sides of the arcade, for a total of 12 retail spots to be made available at affordable rental rates. On the second floor, a community theatre and office spaces will be roughed in, to be finished when more funds come available.
“I’m so happy that the state government recognizes that we’re not too big to fail… just the opposite… we’re a great little town that needs a jump start to uplift and grow Garrettsville again. All we needed was a nice seed like this to encourage us to start again.”
Eklund, meanwhile, says that the enthusiasm and commitment of Mascheck and Patrick was infectious, so he was compelled to offer his assistance to the rebuilding effort.
“Your community suffered a difficult loss a couple of years ago. Your good citizens are doing all they can to make things better. This is just our way of saying, ‘We’re with you, joining alongside you to bring your building back’. This $700,000 won’t fund the whole project, but it’s a piece of the puzzle, and it’s a great outcome… especially when you consider we had $1.4 billion in requests from across Ohio and $160 million in resources available for disbursement.”
Eklund went on to say, “700,000 speaks volumes to the people of Garrettsville and their determination, grit and purpose to rebuild the Buckeye Block Building.”
Along with the Capital Budget Appropriation, Maschek plans to use his share of the GarrettsvilleStrong Fund (which has raised $91,333.78 to date) toward construction costs. He also expects to have the historic grist mill catty-corner to the Buckeye Block sold by next July. The refurbished mill at the corner of Center and Water streets is currently under a rent-to-own agreement with Michael and Vicki Luteran of Sharon, Pennsylvania. They plan to open Rosie Jean Winery in time for Summerfest 2016. The funds from the final sale will also will be put toward the Buckeye Block rebuild. Altogether, Maschek foresees $1.1 million for the project by next July.
Meanwhile, he hopes that community members and outsiders alike will be motivated to contribute more to the GarrettsvilleStrong Fund when they start to see the project take shape on the grassy lawn of the historic Buckeye Block, saying, “We’re all eager see more than just grass growing there.”
To make a contribution to the GarrettsvilleStrong Fund, visit the Chamber of Commerce website at GarrettsvilleArea.com/help or squareup.com/store/garrettsville-area-chamber-of-commerce/