By Megan Miller, Editor
TRUSSVILLE – After initial mockups for the Trussville Downtown Redevelopment were released, TDRA has been working to try to find a way to provide incentive to downtown property owners to update their properties keeping consistent with designs by David Reese.
While the mayor, council and city attorney reviews the grant based proposal, Mayor Gene Melton has proposed a jump start plan to get two prominent downtown buildings renovated.
Mike Gunter, owner of the Main Street building where Brik Realty, Birds on a Fence and the Trussville Tribune are located, has been the first property owner to step up and volunteer to update his buildings using Reese’s designs.
In an email to the Trussville City Council, Mayor Gene Melton said in order to expedite the renovation process, he proposes the City purchases a right of way access to an alley behind Gunter’s buildings along North Chalkville Road, where Ma & Pa’s Cleaners used to be.
The city owned alley way stretches from Vann Circle, but stops short on North Chakville Road. With the city taking ownership, the alley will remain open to the public, and ensure access to the public parking lot behind the Trussville City Schools board offices. Melton said that the city acquiring the right-of-way was critical to the master plan for downtown.
Melton said the cost of the purchase is projected to be $39,000 for the “face lift,” plus $7,000 to reimburse Gunter for paving the ally, totaling $46,000. This estimate was determined though a County appraisal for his property, which divides out to $39.35 per square foot, however, the square foot price to the city would be less than half of that amount at $18.44 per square foot.
Gunter has committed to using the proceeds of the sale to upgrade his two Main Street buildings to match the architectural renderings and is prepared to start the project immediately.
“I had previously served on TDRA and I know how hard they’ve worked to get things going downtown,” Gunter said. “We loved the drawings as soon as we saw them and knew right away that we wanted to be the first property owners to renovate. This gives the city what they need and we’re excited about getting this done for Trussville.”
The proposed changes include demolition to top of walls, reconstruction of the walls to accept new EFS system with dental block, installing new EFS system around entrance and left portion of the building, adding window grids to match existing windows as depicted in the architectural renderings, painting of the exterior of the building and installing new awnings to match the architectural rendering. There will also be three exterior trees added, each 15 feet tall.
“If the council and TDRA would like to take advantage of the timing to face lift this property, all I will need is the Council to authorize the Mayor to purchase the right of way in question at next week’s Council meeting,” Melton said in an email to the council.
Melton said that as soon as the council closes on the property, Gunter has his contractor ready to begin work, and the renovations could be completed prior to the next election.
“The City’s investment in the right of way purchase will cover his expenses and we will not have set a precedent by meeting his previous request of a 75/25 incentive program offer,” Melton said.
Melton said this first project would serve as an example throughout the rest of the downtown redevelopment, and having the project completed within the next 45 days would be a “win-win” for TDRA and the city. Melton said this would also give himself, the council and the city attorney the time they need to review and discuss the details of a grant program to finish the revitalization of the downtown area.
“This is a great opportunity for the city to acquire necessary right of way, at below market value and have one of the most prominent buildings in downtown receive the first TRDA compliant upgrade,” said Melton.