An update on the formation of historic district guidelines, applicable to downtown Three Rivers businesses, was provided this week to the Three Rivers City Commission.
The report was presented by Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma, chairman of the city’s Historic District Commission. He provided Mayor Tom Lowry and commissioners detailed examples of conformity guidelines to which downtown building owners will be subject if they perform any type of renovations.
Vander Giessen-Reitsma, who owns World Fare in downtown Three Rivers, said the standards and guidelines adopted by the HDC are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation and the State Historic Preservation Office.
The purpose of the historic downtown guidelines is to preserve the character of old buildings and maintaining their downtown appeal, he said.
Lowry and commissioners made note of a number of matters included in the rough draft of the guidelines and offered their suggestions to Vander Giessen-Reitsma.
Saturday’s Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce fundraiser was deemed a success by event organizers.
A catered dinner inside the Langley Covered Bridge drew about 100 guests, who were seated at a cluster of 16 tables for a meal prepared by the Sturges-Young Auditorium.
Christy Trammell, chamber president, said pontoon-boat rides and a professional photo next to the historic landmark plaque were part of the package.
The chamber has decided to make an annual event out of what has emerged as the program “Discover the Treasures of St. Joseph County.” Trammell said the chamber board plans to discuss a follow up to the covered bridge dinner with potentially a similar event at a different location in 2014.
Pergolas are now in place at the North Main Street and Railroad Drive entrances to the reconstructed ‘Mural Mall’ in downtown Three Rivers.
The structures – components of the new design for the pedestrian walkway and gathering spot connecting the two streets – were installed Tuesday (June 18).
“Meet Me at the Mall”, a grand re-opening celebration is set for Thursday, July 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event will include a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at the intersection of Portage Avenue and North Main Street at 5:45 p.m.
In addition to reconstruction of the Mural Mall, the $940,000 project has brought lighting and sidewalk improvements in the downtown area.
The bulk of the funding for the project is from a $750,000 Downtown Infrastructure Grant (DIG) awarded to the City of Three Rivers in 2012.
Still to come as a feature of the Mural Mall is free Wi-Fi provided by Frontier Communications. According to Christy Trammell, Executive Director of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority, WiFi “will be installed in the next few weeks with no password.”
Members of the Three Rivers Planning Commission are expected to handle a matter this evening regarding a special-use permit to allow a church to locate in a downtown storefront.
The proposal, being sought by Verse By Verse church, is the main focus of the 6:45 p.m. meeting.
At issue is whether downtown is a suitable location for a church. The matter has been vehemently opposed by Mayor Tom Lowry, local business leader Bruce Monroe and his family, and several members of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority. Opponents say parking-related issues, a precedent being set for additional churches seeking a downtown locations and whether the proposal meets criteria established by the planning commission.
Other opponents have said downtown should be reserved for commerce-related businesses that financially benefit the community.
The building in which Verse By Verse is seeking to locate is at 54 North Main Street and is owned by Tom Meyer, of Meyer Ventures.
Recommendation for a liquor license was given last week by Three Rivers Mayor Tom Lowry and city commissioners.
The license request, made by a microbrewery considering a location at 56 N. Main St., will go before the state for its approval.
During last week’s city commission meeting, an official from Zapf Brewing Company indicated a time frame of about eight to 12 months before the business would open.
The proposed business involves five partners, led by brewer Jon Zapf.
He told commissioners the business would offer beer brewed on-site, with appetizer-type foods expected to be introduced at a later time.