The new owner of the former TV Middletown building will receive a $30,000 city grant to make its side facing Central Avenue more inviting to the public.
Ami Vitori, who bought the 38,000-square-foot structure on Friday, plans to create a destination area with an upscale comfort-food restaurant and other businesses, and spend $100,000 to $150,000 improving the Central face of the building at 1131 Central Ave. The building now will be known as Torchlight Pass.
“My plans are to do renovations of the whole street level, so that I can turn it into a retail, dining, entertainment destination, and along with that, I’m going to improve the exterior,” Vitori said.
“The Central side of the building in particular is quite sad, for lack of a better word,” she said with a chuckle. “It’s kind of a yellow brick, but then there’s orange brick, and red brick. It doesn’t have a lot of curb appeal — the windows are really old, there’s actually bars on the windows from back in the JCPenney days when that was the accounting area.”
Among other things, “We’re going to put new entrances, new lighting, I’m going to do some sort of a siding on the building itself, so it’s much more kind-of modern, clean and inviting to people,” she said.
The Central Avenue side will be the main entrance to the restaurant, she said.
Vitori said she hopes to have retail-ready storefronts available by late summer or early fall, with the aim of opening the restaurant by the end of the year.
On the side of the building that faces Ohio 4, the large canal mural will remain, but there’s an old rusted steel rolling door and old single-pane windows that need replacement, she said.
While the facade grants come from the city of Middletown, they are administered by Downtown Middletown Inc., said the organization’s executive director, Mallory Greenham.
“The city holds the funding to help people fix up their facades, and Downtown Middletown Inc. facilitates the whole program for the city,” Greenham said.
Also receiving grants are:
- All About You Cafe & Catering at 1521 First St. The business will get $600 toward work they’ll do on their expansion.
- Liberty Spirits LLC, a planned micro-distillery at 1357 Central Ave. (one of two buildings it owns), will receive $550 toward an exterior sign.