The Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has added another tool to its toolbox for helping owners and/or tenants make improvements to downtown buildings.
The new tool is a Downtown Development Authority Loan Program – a façade and interior improvement loan program in conjunction with Southern Michigan Bank and Trust.
The DDA Board of Directors voted to move forward with the program during the group’s February meeting Thursday morning (February 18th).
DDA Director Christy Trammell said one person is already interested in utilizing the program and described the interest rate as “very enticing.” She said the rate – based on “Wall Street prime less one percent floating” – is “a significantly lower rate than what you can get without this program.”
Southern Michigan Bank and Trust has committed $500,000 to the program.
The maximum loan amount is $25,000 per building, although waivers of this maximum can be requested at the time of application.
Eligibility extends to owners and/or tenants of existing buildings within the DDA target area.
Rules for the program say that the term for each loan will be determined base on the particular project and use of funding, but will not exceed five years. However, the amortization period is negotiable.
Applications are available from the DDA office.
The DDA Rebate Committee will review applications to be sure the project is in accordance with DDA design guidelines and the intent of the loan. Following its approval, the DDA Rebate Committee will forward the application to the bank for financial approval.
The loan program is intended to stimulate improvements of downtown commercial buildings.
Establishment of a Local Historic District under Michigan’s Local Historic District Act will be a topic for conversation during the next regular meeting of the Three Rivers City Commission.
That fact was noted by City Manager Joe Bippus and Christy Trammell, Executive Director of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority (DDA), during the January meeting of the DDA Board of Directors Thursday morning (January 21st).
During their February 2nd meeting, city commissioners will be asked to adopt a resolution that gives the authority to conduct a historic district study. They will also be asked to appoint members of the study committee.
Trammell reported the names of six people who are being recommended by the DDA for appointment to the study committee – Danielle Moreland, Doug Mitchell, Jerry Wright, Curt Penny, Judy Gilchrist, and Larry-Michael Hackenberg – and indicated that all have agreed to serve. Trammell will be working with the group and wondered if she, too, should be appointed. In response to her query, Bippus said, “I don’t think it would hurt to have you appointed.”
The Local Historic District Act declares historic preservation a public purpose to safeguard a community’s heritage, strengthen local economies, stabilize and improve property values, foster civic beauty and promote history. It enables local governments to adopt a historic district ordinance that contains design review guidelines based on national standards and to appoint a historic district commission to implement the ordinance.
The DDA agreed to take the first step toward establishment of a Local Historic District during its October meeting after a presentation on the subject during its September meeting.
Historic Downtown Three Rivers is sporting another new business these days, one catering to the needs of the very young set.
A December 11th ribbon-cutting conducted by the Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce and its Ambassador Committee helped celebrate the grand opening of Ambrosia Vae Baby Boutique at 113 Portage Avenue.
The business is owned and operated by the mother/daughter combination of Holly Hart and Amber Witt, respectively.
The store bills itself as providing a “unique collection of baby and children’s clothing and accessories.” Witt said, “We have a really beautiful dress line. It’s Isabella and Chloe and they’re really detailed, really lacy, lots of sparkles and just lots of details. That’s one of our favorite lines. We also have a line called Bobbinette for little boys. It’s a very classic little boy look – bibs, corduroy, flannel shirts. We have a Harley line also for the little boys.” And Witt added, “We’re always going to carry a section that’s ten dollars and under – brand name stuff ten dollars and under – so if anyone is looking for a bargain, we have that right here, too.”
The store also carries accessories such as “piggy banks, little rubber duckies, (and) fancy little blankets by Patricia Ann Designs.”
The store occupies a portion of the space that for many years was home to Matt & Mike’s Eatery. The restaurant is moving and is slated to re-open soon in a new location at South Lincoln and West Michigan avenues in Three Rivers.
Witt is looking toward serving the needs of Three Rivers residents and those in surrounding communities, as well as customers from as far away as Kalamazoo.
Ambrosia Vae Baby Boutique is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 to 6 and on Saturday from 10 to 2. You can reach Holly Hart at (269) 506-5404 and Amber Witt at (269) 267-3596.
Hart said, “We’ll be getting new merchandise in all the time. Hopefully, we just grow and expand.”
An artistic touch has been added to the “walk-through” at 25 North Main Street in downtown Three Rivers in the form of a sculpture donated by Tom and Jackie Meyer of Three Rivers.
A brief ceremony and picture-taking session Monday afternoon (November 30th) celebrated the recent placement of “Storytime,” a statue that depicts a young adult reading to a child.
Christy Trammell, executive director of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority (DDA), read a statement prepared by Meyer that said, “Jackie and I are pleased to donate this statue to the citizens of Three Rivers, especially to the children of Three Rivers. We both think it is very important for parents, grandparents, teachers and other adults to read to children as often as possible. The ability to read well is the foundation of all scholastic education. Hopefully this statue will encourage more children to learn to read better and also encourage more adults to help them in that endeavor.”
“Storytime” is small in stature – not adult-size. Meyer said, “We picked the smaller size intentionally in hopes that it would be more appealing and less intimidating to small children. It is the proper size for children to be able to sit on the bench next to the figure of the woman reading to the child.”
Meyer said, “We picked the walk-through location deliberately because of the visibility and the high pedestrian traffic. It is an added advantage that it is directly across the street from Lowry’s, the best book store in southwestern Michigan.”
“We hope this statue gets a lot of attention and use from children and their parents.”
The statement concluded with these words: LEARN TO READ, TEACH OTHERS TO READ AND REMEMBER TO READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.
Event attendees – in addition to Tom and Jackie Meyer and Trammell – included other members of the Meyer family, Mayor Allen Balog, City Manager Joe Bippus, and two members of the DDA Board of Directors, Patty Lockwood and Doug Mitchell.
The DDA gave the green light for installation of the statue in August after Meyer, a DDA board member and past chairman of the group, showed pictures of the sculpture and said that he and his wife “would like to purchase that and put it in the walk-through.”
The passageway connects the Portage River Parking Plaza to North Main Street. It was developed by Meyer Enterprises and purchased by the DDA last fall.
“It’ll be a tremendous event this year.” These are the words of Christy Trammell, executive director of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority (DDA), as she reviewed the activities planned for “Christmas Around Town,” the two-day celebration in Historic Downtown Three Rivers this coming weekend (November 28th & 29th) to kick off the holiday season.
Trammell said there’s been an “outpouring of the community businesses” with “a significant amount of financial donations this year.”
Several new activities have been added this year including a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the Mural Mall at 6 p.m. Saturday and a scavenger hunt to promote and highlight all of the businesses in the downtown district.
The 24-foot Christmas tree – donated by Mott Farms of Vicksburg – was installed in the Mural Mall on Monday with lights and decorations added on Tuesday.
In keeping with tradition, Santa Claus will arrive by fire truck at the Riviera Theatre at noon on Saturday. Santa will be available for FREE photos with youngsters at the Riviera with pickup of the photos the next day at the Walgreens store in Three Rivers.
Other highlights of the celebration include free cookie decorating and face painting, free carriage rides, roasted chestnuts, a free coloring contest and, of course, holiday shopping!
The hours for “Christmas Around Town” are Saturday from 10 to 6 and Sunday from 12 noon to 4.
The Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is all set to deal with Old Man Winter and a whole lot more with the arrival last week of a new John Deere four-wheel-drive tractor and “numerous accessories” for use in the downtown area.
Arrival of the new equipment followed action by the Three Rivers City Commission last month to approve a $15,500 budget amendment and an expenditure from the DDA’s fund balance. The moves cleared the way for the DDA to purchase the equipment from Finnerman’s Farm & Garden of Centreville via a MiDeal contract through the State of Michigan.
DDA Maintenance Supervisor Gabe Smith, who will be on the “front line” in using the equipment for a variety of tasks, is “very happy” with the new tools and said they are “a very welcome addition. It’s just wonderful.”
The equipment lineup includes a 54-inch lawn mower deck, a 52-inch rotary broom, and a 54-inch snow plow blade “with a quick hitch system for about a five-minute change-out,” plus a trailer for hauling.
Smith said the rotary broom can be used for cleaning, moving light snow up to 2 ½ or three inches, and clearing a half-inch to an inch of wet snow and slush.
In addition to dealing with heavier and larger amounts of snow, the blade can be used as a “bulldozer blade” for moving mulch and stones and grading dirt.
A 60-gallon tow-behind sprayer is on back order. It is expected to arrive in a couple of weeks and will serve multiple purposes including flower watering, application of fertilizers and pesticides, and general disinfectant water for sidewalks. Smith said the new tank, considerably larger than the 10-15 gallon tank he’s been using, will trim the time needed for flower watering from two to three hours to one to one-and-a-half hours, thus freeing up time for other tasks.
Smith said that, with the new equipment, the DDA will be able to handle maintenance work in the downtown area without relying on equipment from the city. In his words, “Being a hundred percent all of our own equipment now, it’s going to make it a lot easier. We don’t have to keep making special arrangements with the Department of Public Services to use their equipment. (We can) be more self-contained and pick up after ourselves, clean up better, and be self-sufficient on our own and not rely on others for continuous help and support, which will take up less time on other people’s schedule.”